Dogs Aid in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Man’s best friend may also prove to be researchers’ best friend in the fight to cure breast cancer in both species. 

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine offers a unique program that seeks to  match sick shelter dogs with humans willing to care for them while they undergo treatment for breast cancer. Shelter dogs are used in the trials because only 10-percent of animals are spayed or neutered when they arrive at shelters, and dogs that have not been spayed are many times more likely to develop mammary tumors.

“Dogs with mammary gland tumors who live in shelters really belong to the most vulnerable population,”  said Dr. Karin Sorenmo, an oncologist at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School of Medicine.

Because dogs have five pairs of mammary glands, it is not uncommon for them to have tumors in various stages, making for more thorough research data. “So, if we can figure out what happens when a tumor becomes malignant, what are the most important genetic alterations, maybe there will be a target that can be drugged,” Dr. Sorenmo said.

That could potentially stop the spread of the cancer cells – in humans and in dogs.

Life With Dogs post end paw print


  1. Jennifer says on  03/19/2011 at 11:09 am

    That is AWESOME! I adopted a medically demanding senior dog when I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. He was a beautiful soul who I adored. You need somebody else to focus on when you are going through something like that. Sharing.

  2. Heather says on  03/19/2011 at 11:15 am

    OMG! The first little poodle, Kali, looks like Bitsy Bob’s doppelganger!

  3. Heather says on  03/19/2011 at 11:20 am

    When my beagle/basset, Clare, got a spinal cord injury from being hit by a car, the vet told Mom that she would need a wheelchair (K9 Cart), & that most people would put a dog like that “to sleep”, to which Mom retorted, “Well, we kept Heather!” <;-)

  4. Ranger says on  03/19/2011 at 11:31 am

    Flordia school of vets just released 4 dogs that they have been experimenting on.

  5. Lian says on  03/19/2011 at 11:37 am

    Animals save us.

  6. Excellent, I am sharing this one!

  7. Denise says on  03/19/2011 at 1:12 pm

    our animals are true miracles~<3 shared

  8. Excellent idea. They can lean on each other!

  9. What a great idea! Some (not all) people become so absorbed in self-pity, that taking care of a pet could be just the ticket. It’s been proven that people who have an upbeat attitude and a reason to live do better fighting illness.

  10. Nancy says on  03/19/2011 at 3:15 pm

    very very cool!!!

  11. @Lisa, it’s the dogs that are ill with breast cancer, not the humans. It would be very nice to think that humans would care for these dogs and perhaps adopt them.

  12. the woman in this had cancer twice, they are putting cancer pts with dogs that have cancer thats what i got from the report.i think its great

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