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Canine Cancer Information
What is Cancer?
Cancer is a class of diseases in which a group of cells display uncontrolled growth (division beyond the normal limits), invasion and destruction of adjacent tissues, and sometimes metastasis (spread to other locations in the body via lymph or blood). Most cancers form a tumor but some, like leukemia, do not.
Cancer may affect people and dogs at all ages, even newborns but cancer risk increases with age. Cancer causes about 13% of all human deaths and more than 25% of all canine deaths. As dogs age, their cancer risk raises. As they reach 10 years of age, dogs suffer a 50% cancer rate.
Nearly all cancers are caused by abnormalities in the genetic material of the transformed cells. These abnormalities may be due to the effects of carcinogens, such as tobacco smoke, radiation, chemicals, or infectious agents. Other cancer-promoting genetic abnormalities may be randomly acquired through errors in DNA replication, or are inherited, and thus present in all cells from birth.
Cancer is the number one cause of death in dogs. According to the National Cancer Institute more than six million dogs will be diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S. 50% of dogs 10 years old or older die of cancer. Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in dogs. It occurs most commonly between 5 and 12 years of age. Boxers, Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Fox Terriers, German Shepherds, Scottish Terriers, Rottweilers and Golden Retrievers are at an increased risk when compared with other breeds.
Know your Dog's Cancer Risk
Lymphoma is the most common canine cancer, however other cancers tend to be breed specific. This new website DoggedHealth.com lets you search by your dog's breed to see a list of the most common health problems for each breed, including cancers. Be an advocate for your dog by learning what health risks may effect your dog and learn the symptoms. Early detection is the best defense! Also check your breed organization's website for health issues and cancer risk. Mixed breed dogs are often thought to be at low risk for cancer, however many studies have proven that overall, they are at average risk for cancer. If your mixed breed dog contains a significant portion of a high risk breed blood, then the cancer risk rises.
Does your dog have cancer? Please consider donating a DNA sample to Canine Hereditary Cancer Consortium's (CHCC) If your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, please donate a one-time DNA sample and help the CHCC reach its goal of 2000 samples. The CHCC covers the cost of shipping and processing samples, and can reimburse the cost of a blood draw up to $10, though most vets will provide the sample free of charge if they are informed that it is for academic research. For more information: http://www.tgen.org/research/canine-hcc-frm.cfm
Blood Tests for Early Detection of Cancer, Lymphoma & Hemangiosarcoma Now Available!
Cancer screen for the normal, apparently healthy dog: INCaSe Test
Test for dogs suspected of having cancer: VDI-TK canine+ Test
OncoPet blood test for canine cancer - Early detection of canine cancer is critical.
OncoPet RECAF test for cancer detection in dogs is now coming to market. The test detected 85 percent of a variety of cancers in dogs, at the standard 95 percent specificity level in pre-market studies. Read more
There is an early detection blood test now available for lymphoma. For more information visit Pet Screen's website. Canine cancer researchers are working hard to develop more early detection blood tests for common cancers that can be added to your dog's annual health exam. An excellent article about the future of canine cancer treatment. Read more..
First cancer drug developed exclusively for canines - Pfizer's Palladia has been approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The drug is the first one developed specifically for the treatment of cancer in dogs, the FDA reported today. It was cleared to treat mast-cell tumors, a type of cancer responsible for about one out of five cases of canine skin tumors. Palladia works by cutting off the blood supply to tumors. Read more To review Palladia (SU11654) effectiveness as a treatment option, you can view study results here: Studies
Reasons for Hope
2011 saw many amazing breakthroughs in cancer research. Cyberknife Radiation Treatment, used to treat formerly inoperable cancers is becoming available in more areas, Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers, NY (www.animalspecialtycenter.com), Colorado State University Animal Cancer Center, Veterinary Cancer Group in Tustin, CA . Stereotactic radiosurgery is offered at UC Davis Veteriniary Teaching Hospital in Davis, CA
Canine Melanoma Vaccine is no longer experimental and is now available at veterinary oncologist offices to treat melanoma. The vaccine alerts the immune system to the presence of the melanoma tumor protein and it stimulates an immune response directed against melanoma cells. The vaccine is greatly extending the lifespans of effected dogs. The treatment has minimal side effects. For more information: Vaccine Summary. The melanoma vaccine is a very exciting because it’s one of the first immunotherapies in the world. It is very important that dog owners routinely check their dog's mouth and nails, which are the most common locations melanoma strikes. Clinicial trials of the same technique are showing great promise for humans as well.
New hope for dogs with brain cancer: An experimental procedure to treat a dog with brain cancer that remains successful a year later has earned the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine funding to treat more dogs through clinical trials.
The treatment that saved a 10-year-old German Shepherd mix involved a three-pronged regimen of surgical removal of a glioma brain tumor, treatment of the surgical site with gene therapy used to attract immune cells and destroy any remaining tumor cells, and the administration of an anti-cancer vaccine made from the dog's own cancer cells to prevent recurrence. Read more Clinicial trials of the same technique are now underway for humans.
Clinical trials have just begun attempting to create a osteosarcoma vaccine at the University of Minnesota.
Expected in 2012
We are hopeful that some of the cancers that are currently under testing with the Cancer Vaccine technology will become available to treat other canine cancers. Also Cyberknife Radiation Treatment is becoming available in more areas, Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers, NY (www.animalspecialtycenter.com), Colorado State University