Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pets and Wildlife Cancer, October Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, drawing much needed attention to cancer and its lesser known forms such as pancreatic cancer, a form of the illness that is on the rise and took the life of Steve Jobs this past week, or breast and cervical cancer which are on the rise in poor countries. And one area of cancer research we do not often hear about, cancer in pets and wildlife, which is also on the rise.

Cat Cancer
Cats have an increase of sarcomas in the location of their vaccine injections, according to the Vacccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force"The VAFSTF is a combined effort of the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, American Association of Feline Practitioners, and Veterinary Cancer Society, the task force consists of representatives from each of the groups, veterinary researchers and clinicians, and representatives from the USDA/APHIS and the Animal Health Institute." "In 1991 Veterinarians began noticing a higher number of sarcomas    a connection has been made between vaccines and feline sarcoma, a malignant tumor arising from connective tissues." Veterinarians insist it is more beneficial than harmful to have the vaccine than not, but to discuss it with your vet.

Dog Cancer
"There appears to be a cruel and bitter parallel between the rise in numbers of Canine Cancers and the same trend in Human cancers. Cancer in dogs was pretty rare not so long ago. Now, Lymphoma & Osteosarcoma are becoming increasingly commonplace, followed closely by others such as Melanoma, Fibrosarcoma, Thyroid and Anal gland carcinoma." says Michele Ovens in her Squidoo lens, The Rise of Canine Cancer.

Cancer in Wildlife
An article in Scientific American by Crystal Gammon, suggests there may be a link between a rise in wildlife cancer and environmental contaminants. She cites several studies including Beluga whales in the St. Lawrence Estuary, California Sea Lions, catfish in the Great Lakes, and North Sea flounder.

Denise McAloose, a pathologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, and who recently reviewed the topic in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer, notes “We know that toxic compounds in the environment can cause cancer in humans, so it's not a far stretch to realize that pollutants can cause cancer in animals”.

It does seem reasonable to assume that if environmental factors contribute to cancer in humans, they will likewise affect the animals we share the planet with.  So a month of attention brought to bear on Breast Cancer can also help shed light on cancer's many faces and hopefully move us that much closer to finding a way to rid ourselves of its destructiveness once and for all. In the meantime, we can love and support those of us living with cancer today. There are wonderful cards available by many artists on Greeting Card Universe for sharing with cancer survivors, their families and friends. Here is a sample:

By Corrie Kuipers

By Sandra Rose Designs

by Diana Liu


  1. So true Diana, cancer in our pets has something I've been familiar with for 30-years, but only the last 10-years have I heard much about the research in this area. Thank you for an informative post!


  2. Thank you Sharon for a very good read and resource, as well as your choice of cards. We share a common trait, we are hooked on animal love, and want to keep them healthy and strong.

  3. thank-you both for reading and being fellow animal devotees :)

  4. Informative post, Sharon. Several years ago, we had a healthy (we thought) 15 year old cat who had a seizure and died within 24 hours. The vet told us that he may have had a brain tumor. Before that, I'd never really heard all that much about cats having cancer.


  5. Hi Sharon,
    a very informative post - especially the part about the environment - we people certainly pollute our surroundings and planet. I did not know that cancer was on the rise in animals -domesticated or wild. But it figures ... I find it saddening to think what a mess we humans make of our world and of ourselves ...
    Best regards,
    barbara s

  6. Oh, Sharon, forgot to ask - I cannot see a "follow this blog" button. How do I follow you?
    best regards, barbara s

  7. thanks Barbara and Robin :) Barbara, I added a follow button-thanks for the note! And I wanted to congratulate you on your published book!