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Dogs Helping to Advance Cancer Research

Treatment for canine tumors may yield insight into therapies for people, researchers say

TUESDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Ordinary dogs with cancer could provide crucial insight into the human forms of the disease, potentially leading to better treatments and screening for tumors, researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute report.

The study authors, whose findings appear in the Oct. 13 online journal PLoS Medicine, noted that the estimated one million dogs that develop cancer in the United States each year can help inform scientists how investigative and experimental treatments work.

As in humans, dog owners often turn to such treatments -- including chemotherapy, radiation and surgery -- as a last resort.

In many cases, "pet owners are motivated by the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of cancer treatment for future human and canine patients," lead author Chand Khanna and colleagues at the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute explained in a news release from the Public Library of Science.

Researchers have studied cancer in other animals for decades, particularly bone cancer, lymphoma and melanoma. Now, the National Cancer Institute's Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium encourages the study of cancer in animals with an eye towards helping people.

Dogs develop many diseases that are similar to those in humans. In recent years, researchers have paid more attention to the similarities.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has information about the first cancer drug developed specifically for dogs.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Public Library of Science, news release, Oct. 12, 2009

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