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May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month – by Dr. Gerald Post

May 17, 2014

Because 50% of dogs over 10 years of age die of cancer and because 4 to 8 million new cases of cancer in dogs and 4 to 6 million new cases of cancer in cats are diagnosed each year, pet parents consistently identify cancer as their number one health concern.

Awareness – having knowledge, informed of current developments

An Informed Pet Parent Can Make All the Difference: Advances in the prevention and treatment of pet – related cancers have developed rapidly in the last several years, and they offer hope to every pet & pet parent hoping to avoid or at least to effectively manage this disease?

Prevention – More information is now available on the genetic basis of cancer in pets.  While no breed is immune from cancer and love for a breed or particular pet is the most important reason to bring one home, an informed pet parent will do his or her research and know the breeds most likely to develop particular forms of cancer.

Familiarize yourself with the attached 10 Warning Signs of Cancer to detect issues early (https://www.vcchope.com/petowners/warning-signs)

Just as in people, early detection improves a pet’s chances of a positive outcome in the treatment of cancer.  As veterinarians, we strongly recommend a minimum once per year check – up for your pet through middle age, increasing to twice per year as age advances.  Since our pets age much more rapidly than we do, resulting in a compressed lifespan, their cancers (and other diseases) also progress more quickly.

Researchers have also demonstrated links between some lawn care chemicals and the risk of developing lymphoma.  Simple steps such as eliminating the use of lawn chemicals and educating your community to their effect can have a profound impact  (http://www.ncbi.nim.nih.pmc/articles/PMC3267855/).

Treatment – If your pet receives a diagnosis of cancer, seek treatment from a board certified veterinary oncologist in your area.  You may search for one on line by visiting:  (http://www.acvim.org).

Rapid advances in the treatment of pet cancer include a new class of drugs that are designed to specifically target the molecular and genetic defects found only in cancer cells – targeted chemotherapy.  Radiation therapy is now able to target tumors with pinpoint accuracy, allowing veterinary radiation oncologists to effectively treat the tumor without harming the surrounding normal tissue.  Progress has also been made in the ability to prevent and treat the side effects associated with cancer therapy, so the percentage of pets having reactions to chemotherapy or radiation have dropped dramatically in the past five years.

For more information on the types of cancer therapy available, visit: http://theveterinarycancercenter.com/about/services

Current Research - Comparative oncology, research into the genetic, molecular, clinical and histological similarities of the cancers that occur in pets and people, offers a unique opportunity for veterinary oncologists and human oncologists working together to discover new, improved cancer diagnostics and treatment for all of us.  Pet parents can ask the board certified veterinary oncologist in their local offices about available clinical trials for pets with cancer and will find an up to date list maintained here:   (https://www.vcchope.com).   Animal Cancer Foundation, a 501©(3)charitable organization, funds comparative oncology research and is a wonderful source of information about this field.  They rely on donations to be able to fund this groundbreaking research.   (http://www.acfoundation.org). The folks at Blue Buffalo Company created the Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research and the Pet Cancer Awareness Program (PCA) in 2003 with three important goal of finding a cure. Research is expensive. Pet Cancer Awareness helps provide funds to universities and clinics that are conducting research on the causes, prevention and treatment of canine cancer and feline cancer.