About Cancer

Here is where we can discuss canine cancers and treatment options to create a support system for those dealing with the disease.

Postby Marinepits » January 7th, 2008, 10:21 pm

http://www.csuanimalcancercenter.org/wb ... tid=Cancer

Open acknowledgement of the human-animal bond has elevated the importance of pets to that of human beings in many owners’ eyes. Most Americans view their pets as family members. In fact, studies show that more than 70 percent of pet owners think of their pets as children. Cancer is a great health concern among pet owners, and 40 percent worry about their pets having cancer regardless of the age of their pets.

Cancer is the number one natural cause of death in geriatric cats and dogs, and it accounts for nearly 50 percent of deaths each year. Although cancer is the leading cause of death in geriatric patients, it’s also the most treatable disease when compared with congestive heart failure, renal failure, and diabetes mellitus. A trained and dedicated veterinary team is essential to compassionately care for cancer patients and clients. When a well-informed client sees a family member, whether human or non-human, stricken with cancer, s/he will often embrace every possible cancer treatment. Each staff member, from receptionist to kennel attendant, must understand that s/he plays a vital role in determining a patient’s quality of life. And extending a patient’s good quality of life is the best reason to treat cancer.


Cancer is the unrestrained growth of cells that destroy normal tissues and body parts. To the medical professional, cancer is a word used to describe a condition of uncontrolled growth. We’ve studied it, categorized it, and classified it by any number of criteria. Very few words, however, create more fear in the imagination of people. To the layperson, cancer is the beginning of the end of a loved one. It’s an uncle who’s lost a leg, or a cousin whose hair has fallen out. It’s a grandmother who has had too many surgeries, or it’s a father who lost the battle entirely. Most people’s perception of cancer, surgery, and chemotherapy is colored with fear and hopelessness. When treating a animal patient with cancer, overcoming the owners’ fear is the first job for every veterinary team.

To understand cancer as a process, let’s look at the development of a tumor. Most cancers are believed to arise through a process called multistep carcinogenesis. This theory is based on the fact that in the majority of cancers, at least two genetic changes have occurred prior to the induction of malignancy. There are three basic steps in multistep carcinogenesis. These steps ultimately lead to the evolution of a cancer cell from a normal cell.


Initiation: Initiating agents induce a permanent and irreversible change in the DNA of the affected cell. In and of itself, the initiating event is not significant enough to induce neoplastic transformation. Initiated cells cannot be distinguished under the microscope from other cells in the surrounding environment.

Promotion: Promoting agents cause reversible tissue and cellular changes. Promoting agents can induce changes in the shape of a cell, its growth rate, and degree of terminal differentiation. Promotion serves to expand the initiated cell population and alter it in such a way as to increase the likelihood of another irreversible change occurring.

Progression: Progressing agents are able to convert an initiated cell, or a cell undergoing promotion, into a cell exhibiting malignancy, capable of developing into a mature cancer. The process of progression is irreversible.


In order for a tumor to result, the affected cell must be irreversibly altered at least twice. The cell is altered once in the initiation phase and once in the progression phase. The promotion phase changes the affected cell in a way to increase the likelihood that the cell changed by the initiation will be in a position to be changed by the progression phase.


Cancer is a common and serious disease. Many owners have had or will have personal experience with cancer in themselves, a family member, or a close friend. Keeping this in mind, we should approach the pet with cancer in an educated, positive, and compassionate manner. With increased optimistic media coverage, pet owners are becoming more knowledgeable and more demanding in seeking care for their pets with cancer. The veterinary profession needs to be prepared for these demands, rather than thinking nothing can be done. When clients hear about advances in human medicine, they expect the same treatment options for their pets.
Never make someone a priority in your life when that someone treats you like an option.
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