Navigating the two-way street of comparative oncology
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Companion animals offer a unique model for study of spontaneously occurring cancer for many reasons. Our pets share our environment, thus may have similar exposure to environmental carcinogens. The technology for diagnosis and staging of cancer in veterinary medicine is identical to that available in human medicine, thus direct comparisons can be made. The biological behavior of naturally-occurring cancer in immune-competent pets more closely mimics that of human cancer than does that of experimentally-induced cancer in immunocompromised rodent models. One in four dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime and many pet owners will seek specialty, and even investigational therapy options. Thus, an opportunity exists for advancing the field of human oncology while offering state-of-the-art options for veterinary patients. The features shared between human and companion animal cancers provide a compelling argument for capitalizing on the opportunities that comparative oncology offers to benefit our understanding, diagnostic tools, and therapy options for a disease that knows no species boundaries. Examples of translational oncology research spanning from bench top laboratory investigations to bedside/cageside applications will be highlighted.