Pets battling cancer help lead doctors to cures, treatments for people

Pets battling cancer help lead doctors to cures, treatments for people
 View Video
  Heart_Img274Dogs, as well as other companion animals, stricken with cancers are being treated and studied, in part, to pursue advancements that could lead to cancer cures in treating humans. Medical doctors, veterinarians and researchers are working together in hope of better understanding, and treating, cancers that link pets and people. The cooperative approach, known as comparative oncology, is the focus of a new documentary, “The Answer to Cancer May Be Walking Right Beside Us,”  produced by Colorado State University and Rocky Mountain PBS, which aired on Thursday, Sept. 29. “People need to realize that animals get cancer and that owners want their animals cured and cared for and that why not extrapolate that to humans,” said Dr. Stephen Withrow, founder and associate director of CSU’s Flint Animal Cancer Center, in a trailer for the documentary.            
In 1972, as an intern at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, Withrow pursued surgical oncology and attended rounds at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, also in Manhattan.
“Viewing cancer from both perspectives, I gradually became aware that veterinary medicine could have a significant influence on human health as well as animal health,” said Withrow, on a CSU webpage.
Withrow, who has been at CSU since 1978, is teaming with other health professionals, including Dr. Ross Wilkins, MD., an orthopedic surgeon at Colorado Limb Consultants. Together, they pioneered a limb-sparing technique allowing people with bone cancer to avoid amputation. The approach, first developed at CSU for veterinary patients, has benefited countless children, according to a CSU media release.
“Cancer is cancer,” said Dr. Rodney Page, CSU professor and director of the Flint Animal Cancer Center. “The same mechanisms that result in cancer in humans are operative in dogs, and are operative in other animals as well. The aspect that is valuable is the information that can be gathered through well-done clinical studies in companion animals with naturally occurring cancers.”
The documentary,  spearheaded by CSU videographer Joe Vasos and Vice President for External Relations Tom Milligan, features researchers and clinicians from CSU, Duke University, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, The Ohio State University, North Carolina State University, Purdue University, the University of California Davis, Children’s Hospital Colorado, the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin.
“Cancer experts at Colorado State University have long advocated the value of comparative oncology in the fight against cancer in all species,” Milligan said. “We hope this documentary will help spread this message to a broad audience.”

Submit a Comment