Cancer in dogs and cats is common - as many as 1 in 4 dogs and 1 in 6 cats will develop a tumour in their lifetime. Cancer is also one of the common causes of death in cats and dogs - 45% of dogs over 10 years die of cancer.
The Animal Cancer Trust was set up to help change these statistics and has 3 principal aims:
education, treatment and research.
Under the umbrella of the education comes awareness of cancer. One of the most important factors in the successful treatment is early diagnosis. There are 10 signs that can be associated with a tumour and warrant urgent veterinary examination.
1. Abnormal swelling or lump that grows
2. Sores that do not heal
3. Loss of appetite
4. Offensive breath
5. Unexplained loss of weight
6. Difficulty eating or swallowing
7. Persistent lameness or swiftness
8. Difficulty urinating or defecating
9. Breathlessness or loss of stamina
10. Bleeding or discharge from any body opening.
ACT is developing its website to become an information resource initially for owners but ultimately for veterinary surgeons.
Another important factor in the fight against cancer is early, appropriate and effective treatment - no longer is the let’s-wait-and-see attitude acceptable in the face of cancer. Surgery remains the treatment most likely to achieve a cure. However, aggressive tumours need aggressive surgery and, as with human cancer, this is best performed by specialist surgeons with an understanding of cancer. Some tumours can also be treated with radiotherapy but currently there is only one facility for animals in the UK. The third option for treatment involves anticancer drugs. Unlike chemotherapy in people, the majority of animals have few side effects and their quality of life is usually very good. Again as in human cancer care, specialist centres are the ideal providing all treatment options. The ultimate aim of the Animal Cancer Trust is to fund major treatment facilities so that more animals can benefit from advanced treatment. ACT is also committed to establishing a fund to provide financial assistance for owners with limited means to help with the costs of cancer treatment.
The third aim of the Animal Cancer Trust is to fund research into cancers of animals. Pet dogs and cats not only share their owners’ environment but they also suffer from similar cancers. The Animal Cancer Trust aims to promote ethical research into cancer of companion animals by the funding of research programmes and by the provision of research facilities. The basic biology of cancer is common to all animal species and knowledge gained in one species will be beneficial to all, humans and animals alike.
That is the vision – now the reality. To achieve all of these aims needs a substantial amount of money – a rough estimate is £ 5 million. However there are about 6.5 million dogs in England and at least as many cats – just imagine what we could achieve with only £1 for every dog or cat!
If you want to join us in ‘helping fight cancer in our pets’ visit our developing web site: www.animalcancertrust.org.uk or contact the Animal Cancer Trust office.
l Animal Cancer Trust, 8 Bedford Road, Houghton Conquest, Bedfordshire, MK45 3LS Telephone/fax 08701 644225. The Animal Cancer Trust is a UK Registered Charity, number 1094779.