1. What is Cancer?
Cancer is an uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells or tissues in the body. Some of these growths are benign while others are malignant. Benign tumors do not grow aggressively and do not invade surrounding body tissues; they also do not spread throughout the body. Malignant tumors on the other hand, grow rapidly, invading the tissues around them and spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors are considered to be true cancers.1
2. How common is cancer in dogs and cats?
Cancer accounts for almost half of the deaths in pets over 10 years of age. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats get fewer cancers.2
3. What causes cancer in pets?
Some of the risk factors associated with the development of cancer are related to the pet’s environment. For example, exposure to tobacco smoke, chemicals such as herbacides and ultraviolet light from the sun are all risk factors.
A pet’s genetics and immune system can also contribute to the development of cancer. Usually, when a cancerous cell forms the white blood cells destroy the mutated cell before it can form a tumor. Due to inherent problems with the immune system’s inability to recognize and destroy cancerous cells, some breeds become predisposed to cancer. Some viruses such as Feline Leukemia can also be a contributing factor to the development of cancer.
Although research continues to provide new learnings, we don’t really know why most pets develop cancer.3
4. The most common pet cancers are:4
5. Are certain dog breeds more susceptible to developing cancer?
About 1 in 3 dogs die of cancer, about the same rate as people. Some breeds, however, are more susceptible than others. Here are the breeds with highest incidences of cancer.5
6. What can I do to keep my pet healthy?
There are a number of things you can do to help maintain the health of your pet:6
1. (2010, March). Cancer in Animals. Retrieved August 19, 2010, from the American Veterinary Medical Association Web Site: http://www.avma.org/animal_health/brochures/cancer/cancer_brochure.asp.
2. (2010, March). Cancer in Animals.
3. Pet Owners Guide to Cancer. Retrieved August 19, 2010, from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Partners in Animal Health Information and Resources Web Site: http://partnersah.vet.cornell.edu/Pets-Guide-To-Cancer/Why-Pets-Get-Cancer
4. Cancer Facts. Retrieved August 19, 2010, CORE Cancer Care at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals Web Site: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/cancer/prevention.html
5. Beck, M. (2010, May 4). When Cancer Comes with a Pedigree. Retrieved August 19, 2010, from the Wall Street Journal Web Site: http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052748704342604575222062208235690.html
6. Cancer Facts. Retrieved August 19, 2010, CORE Cancer Care at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals Web Site: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/cancer/prevention.html