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November Marks Fifth Annual National Pet Cancer Awareness Month

BREA, Calif., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Cancer is not strictly a "human" condition. As the No. 1 disease-related killer of dogs and cats, cancer claims millions of pets each year. This November, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, will seek to increase awareness about the prevalence, detection and treatment of pet cancer during its fifth annual Pet Cancer Awareness Month. To raise funds for pet cancer research, VPI has partnered with the Animal Cancer Foundation (ACF) and organized its third annual VPI K9K Pet Cancer Awareness Walk in Long Beach, Calif. on Nov. 14. VPI also provides pet cancer detection tips and urges ACF donations through the purchase of pet cancer awareness collars and wristbands at

VPI started Pet Cancer Awareness month in 2005 after noticing that cancer diagnoses often caught pet owners by surprise. Many either did not know their pets could develop cancer or underestimated the cost to treat cancerous conditions. In 2008, VPI received nearly 30,000 claims for pet cancer. The most common form of pet cancer, lymphosarcoma, made up about a fifth of those claims. Other common forms of pet cancer included: mast cell tumors, fibrosarcomas (which stem from connective tissues), and hemangiopericytomas (a tumor generally located on a limb). Other types of neoplasias --defined as a growth or tumor--were commonly found on the liver, spleen or eyelid.

Overall, cancer claims were the sixth most common type of medical claim received by VPI in 2008. According to VPI's claims data, which draws from a population of more than 474,000 insured pets, following are the 10 most common types of cancer found in dogs and cats:

                  Top Pet Cancer Claims in 2008
    1. Lymphosarcoma             6. Neoplasia - Liver
    2. Mast Cell Tumor           7. Neoplasia - Thorax
    3. Neoplasia - Spleen        8. Neoplasia - Brain or Spinal Cord
    4. Neoplasia - Eyelid        9. Fibrosarcoma
    5. Osteogenic Sarcoma        10. Hemangiopericytoma

The cost of treating a pet with cancer varies depending on the type of cancer and the length of therapy. If chemotherapy or radiation treatment is required, costs can reach more than $10,000 over several sessions. To ensure that VPI policyholders are able to pursue optimal cancer treatment, VPI offers an optional cancer-specific rider that attaches to its base medical plans. The cancer rider supplements benefit allowances available for treatment of eligible cancerous conditions.

To detect cancer early, pet owners should be attentive to any growing lump or sore that fails to heal, drastic changes in a pet's appetite or weight, unusually strong odors coming from a pet, discharge or bleeding from any body opening, difficulty chewing or swallowing, or an unwillingness to exercise. More detection tips and information on Pet Cancer Awareness Month can be found at

For more information on the Animal Cancer Foundation, visit

Note to editors: VPI can provide state-specific cancer data and digital images of Pet Cancer Awareness dog collars and wristbands. Send requests to

About Veterinary Pet Insurance

Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency is the nation's oldest and largest pet health insurance company and is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies. Providing pet owners with peace of mind since 1982, the company is committed to being the trusted choice of America's pet lovers and an advocate of pet health education. VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Optional VPI CareGuard(SM) coverage for routine care is also available.

Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than 2,000 companies nationwide offer VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit. Policies are underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and in all other states by National Casualty Company, an A+15 rated company in Madison, Wisconsin. Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

SOURCE Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.

SOURCE Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.
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