Experimental therapy for dogs could help understand human cancer

According to a team of scientists with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), studying dogs suffering from cancer could provide some valuable insights into diagnosis and treatment of human cancer.

The team is led by Chand Khanna and believes that studying the effects of new cancer therapies in clinical trials held using dogs might help understand human cancer because the cancer tumours in our best friends have similar biological and clinical similarities to our own tumours.

Whether or not a dog owner decides to allow an experimental therapy on their own dog is reportedly influenced by the reduced cost for care given through trials as well as the potential benefits or risks, according to Khanna and his team.  They add:

“many pet owners are motivated by the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of cancer treatment for future human and canine patients.”

It is estimated there are around 1 million new cancer diagnoses in dogs in the US alone every year and the condition is generally treated in a similar manner to human cancer, i.e. radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.

Sadly, the world’s tallest dog Gibson died from bone cancer earlier this year and many dog owners are no stranger to the illness.

The article was published earlier this week in the PLos Medicine Journal.  Activists and critics claim experimenting on dogs is wrong, and Khanna’s refute to this was:

“It’s important that the trials are designed with the care of the animals as priority, and also that there’s an informed consent process each time.”

If you have been in the unfortunate position where your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, would you approve of using experimental trials?