How Man’s Best Friend Helps Us Understand Cancer in Humans

Rowan J. Milner, BVSc(Hons), MMedVet, PhD, DACVIM, DECVIM
Hill’s Endowed Professor of Oncology, Director of Clinical and Translational Research,
UF College of Veterinary Medicine

The incidence of cancers in dogs and cats of 381 and 264 cats per 100,000 individuals respectively is comparable with human rates of 300 per 100,000 humans (NCI SEER program). This translates into 55-60 million dogs at risk for cancer. Furthermore, using new technology genome-wide association study (GWAS) we now know that certain common cancers share remarkably similar genetic changes with humans, these included pediatric cancer such as osteosarcoma. Additionally, dogs have a greater incidence of these cancers with a shorter biological time line.   Thus, our best friends share not only our homes with us, they also provide a research stepping stone on the road to improved treatments for human cancer. At the University of Florida, we have successfully run Immunotherapy Clinical Trails in Brain tumors (glioblastoma multiforme), and now osteosarcoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth in cats.

Rowan J. Milner is a Board Certified Veterinary Medical Oncologist with PhD in translational cancer research from the Medical School UP. His research includes immunotherapy clinical trials in canines with osteosarcoma, melanoma and hemangiosarcoma.

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