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Questions and Answers

Following are answers to commonly asked questions about the Animal Cancer Foundation. If your question is not answered here, please do not hesitate to contact us.

How many companion animals are diagnosed each year with cancer?

​There are 65 million dogs and 32 million cats in the United States. Of these, roughly 6 million new cancer diagnoses are made in dogs and a similar number made in cats each year. See http://ccr.nci.nih.gov.

How does this figure compare with the human population?

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 11,028,000 people are living with cancer in the United States. Over 1,000,000 new diagnoses are made each year. 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States. See http://www.cancer.org.

How are pet cancers similar to human cancers?

Cancer in the pet population is a spontaneous disease often similar to cancer seen in humans; some examples include non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, prostate cancer, head and neck carcinoma, mammary carcinoma, melanoma, soft tissue sarcoma, and osteosarcoma.

In what ways is the companion animal model relevant to the study of human cancer?

The Canine Genome Sequencing Project at the Broad Institute successfully mapped the genome of a boxer named Tasha in 2005. The map of the genome has been used to confirm that many of the same genes involved in dog cancers are also involved in human cancers. See http://research.nhgri.nih.gov/dog_genome.

Does the scientific community believe that ACF's mission is correct?

Yes. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) believes so strongly in this vision that the NCI Comparative Oncology Program was created in response. Currently, the Canine Comparative Oncology Genomics Consortium (CCOGC), a multidisciplinary consortium of scientific leaders from both human and veterinary oncology, is working to explore the broader implications of the canine genome sequence for human cancer research.

What factors contribute to the relevance of the spontaneous companion animal model to human cancer?

According to the NCI Comparative Oncology Program, the model is relevant for several reasons: dogs and cats share many environmental risk factors with their human owners, including food and water sources and even the air we breathe. Dog and cat cancers also behave in biologically similar ways to human cancers. Unfortunately, dog and cat cancers occur spontaneously in sufficient numbers for clinical trials and biological studies, a unique occurrence in the animal kingdom. Further, human owners are likely to consent to participate in clinical trial because current protocols are not as effective. The progression of cancer in companion animals is rapid and therefore clinical trial also progresses more rapidly than in other models. See https://ccrod.cancer.gov/confluence/display/CCRCOPWeb/Home.

Where is comparative oncology research being conducted?

The Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium (COTC) is a network of Nineteen academic comparative oncology centers, centrally managed by the NIH-National Cancer Institutes Comparative Oncology Program, that designs and executes clinical trials in dogs with cancer to assess novel therapies …and integrate them into the design of current human Phase I and II clinical trials. See https://ccrod.cancer.gov/confluence/display/CCRCOPWeb/Comparative+Oncology+Trials+Consortium.

The Veterinary Cancer Society (VCS), a 1000 member professional society, sponsors an annual conference to disseminate the latest veterinary and comparative oncology research to the membership.

In addition, board certified veterinary oncologists across the country are collaborating with one another, with human oncologists, and with medical and pharmaceutical researchers on a variety of initiatives.

What are some of the most recent research breakthroughs resulting from the work of COTC, CCOGC and the Veterinary Cancer Society that confirm ACF's vision?

CCOGC researchers determined that a necessary resource in the field was a repository of tissues (tumor and normal) from tumor bearing dogs. Pfizer agreed to help establish and maintain the Pfizer-CCOGC Biospecimen Repository in Frederick, Maryland to collect 3,000 tissue and fluid samples from dogs with specific cancer types relevant to human cancer research. Efforts are underway to gather funding to institute genomic mapping.  COTC is currently undertaking several clinical trials including targeted delivery therapy in treatment of tumors.

VCS members have been instrumental in gathering clinical data for Merial in the development of the Canine Melanoma Vaccine which has earned interim licensing from the Food & Drug Administration for use in veterinary oncology (Canine Melanoma in the 21st Century-Merging Biotherapeutics with Vaccine Technology. A Symposium Held on October 20, 2006, at the 26th Annual Conference of the Veterinary Cancer Society)

What role does the Animal Cancer Foundation have in evaluating and funding comparative oncology research?

The Animal Cancer Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that evaluates requests for funding in the field of comparative oncology. Since ACF is an independent organization run by a volunteer executive board, grants are awarded on the basis of merit alone. Attention is given to researchers whose work would benefit from initial funding to impact the early stages of comparative oncology research critical to promote and sustain the research to attract additional grant-making entities. ACF grants help to develop novel therapeutics and diagnostics.

What studies is ACF currently supporting?

ACF Comparative Oncology Award winner 2014 is Elizabeth McNiel, DVM, PhD, Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and  Molecular Oncology Research Institute, Tufts Medical Center, "EZH-2: A New Target for the Treatment of Canine Bladder Cancer."

ACF Comparative Oncology Award winners will be announced shortly.

 How can I help ACF?

Make a donation to ACF to help fund the above studies by clicking on the Donate Now link or by mailing your check to:

Animal Cancer Foundation
129 Glover Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06850

Or by telephoning us at 1-877-GIVE-ACF 

Is the Foundation a nonprofit organization?

Yes. The Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization designated by the Internal Revenue Code.

Do you have chapter organizations?

No. The Foundation is located in Norwalk, Connecticut and does not have chapters. Our events and fundraising efforts, however, stretch across the country. Supporters hold events in their local areas to help raise funds and awareness of our mission.

Can I make a donation in honor or in memory of someone’s pet?

Yes. For more information, see the Dedications section of our website.

What is a corporate matching gift and how can I make one?

Many large corporations have matching gift programs and will match your personal donation to a charitable organization. Such programs should be discussed with your human resources representative.