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Veterinary Oncology

Veterinary Oncology

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Small Animal/Exotics20TH ANNIVERSARY
Compendium 
October 1999
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20th 
ANNIVERSARY 
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1980
Purdue University hosts the first VCS Clinical Veterinary Oncology Workshop The National Institutes of Health  publishes the first and only monograph on the occurrence of  tumors in domestic animals 
E. Gregory MacEwen, VMD
olina State University), radiation ther-apyadvanced because of the potentialfor using companion animals as mod-elsfor human cancer. Over the past20 years, there have been significanttechnical refinements in radiationtherapy in humans as the result of ex-periencegained in veterinary practice.For example, investigators at Colo-radoState University obtained substan-tialgrant support from the NationalCancer Institute in the mid-1970s
 1981
1968
The seminal paper on cancer incidence data  for dogs and cats is  published in the 
 Journal of theNational CancerInstitute
1974
The Veterinary Cancer Society (VCS) is established 
1978
The World Health Organization  publishes the TNM (tumor, node,metastasis) classification of  tumors in domestic animals 
T
he field of veterinary oncology has grown considerably over the past 20 to30 years. Today, cancer treatment in companion animals continues toundergo a substantial evolution within clinical veterinary practice. It isestimated that 15% to 20% of mature animals presented to a veterinary practice will have a neoplastic process. Following diagnostic workup, 20% to 25% of those patients will receive cancer treatment.
History 
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, veterinary oncology was dominated by pathologists and, to a limited degree, academic veterinary surgeons. The ad-vances made during this time were predominantly pathologic classificationschemes and tumor grading systems. The development of traditional surgicalmanagement of solid tumors served as the basis for gaining information on thebiologic behavior and sites of metastasis for many common cancers. When I entered the field of veterinary oncology in the early 1970s, the prima-ry objective for most aggressive cancers was to establish a diagnosis and obtain acomplete necropsy. In the late 1970s, clinical staging systems were establishedunder the leadership of the World Health Organization. These staging systems were essential for the development of prospective clinical trials, for valid compar-isons among treatment modalities and studies performed by various investiga-tors, and for maintaining consistency in the presentation of data in the litera-ture. Surgical oncology advanced significantly in the 1980s; the most notablecontributions included advances in the aggressive treatment of oral tumors (e.g.,mandibulectomy, partial maxillectomy) and limb-salvage procedures.Slowly, the field of nonsurgical cancer therapy began to develop. Particularly ata few schools of veterinary medicine (e.g., Colorado State University, North Car-
 
Veterinary Oncology 
Highlights and Horizons in
E. Gregory MacEwen, VMD, Diplomate  ACVIM (Internal Medicine, Oncology) 
Professor, Department of Medical Sciences School of Veterinary Medicine University of Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin 
 
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and early 1980s for the study of ani-mal models and obtained new dataon tumor response, tumor hypoxia,fractionation techniques, and normaltissue toxicity in companion animals.The field of veterinary medical on-cology struggled in the 1970s becauseof the lack of veterinary centers fo-cusing on medical oncology. Initially,the major challenges were to identify available chemotherapeutic agents,determine dose levels that were welltolerated, establish frequencies of ad-ministration, determine appropriatemonitoring for drug toxicity, andconduct clinical trials to determineefficacy. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a number of available chemo-therapeutic agents (e.g.,
L
-asparagi-nase, doxorubicin, vincristine, cyclo-phosphamide, melphalan) tested inprospective clinical trials were shownto have antitumor activity in animalsfor lymphoma, chronic leukemias, mye-loma,and a few solid tumor types.Following the identification of thebest agents, such as those listed above,the next challenge was to combinethese drugs into combination chemo-therapyprotocols. In the mid-1980s,combination chemotherapy protocolshad become the standard of care formedical oncology in human and vet-erinarymedicine. Since the late 1980sand early 1990s, combined-modality therapy, which includes surgery, ra-diation, and chemotherapy, has be-come more common in the generalpractice of veterinary oncology.The use of immunotherapy andbiologic therapy has its roots in themid-1970s; however, the results of anumber of clinical trials yielded only minimal benefit in treating a few se-lected solid tumors, such as osteosar-coma, melanoma, and lymphoma. Noneof the targets of current anticancerdrugs are cancer-specific; DNA andRNA synthesis, microtubule assem-bly and function, and topoisomeras-es arecommon targets for anticancerdrugs but are also required by nor-mal cells, especially those that growrapidly (e.g., in bone marrow andthe gastrointestinal tract). However,as our understanding of the molecu-lar biology of cancer and the role of the tumor microenvironment or tu-mor–host interaction increases, en-thusiasm for biologic therapy, genetherapy, organ-specific targeting, andimmunotherapy will intensify.Someof the most exciting advances in can-cer therapy, such as antiangiogenicagents, tumor vaccines, growth factorreceptor inhibitors, and liposome-en-capsulated chemotherapy,are basedon a better understanding of the bi-ology of cancer and the selection of agents with defined mechanisms of action.
Organizations
The advancement of veterinary oncology is also based on organizedveterinary medicine. The most no-table impact on clinical veterinary oncology was the establishment of the Veterinary Cancer Society (VCS)in 1974. The VCS grew from a smallgroup of approximately 20 to morethan 600 members today. This orga-nization has played a major role inthe dissemination of new knowledgethrough its annual scientific meet-ings and the publication of the
Vet- erinary Cancer Society Newsletter 
.The VCS has also helped to devel-op veterinary oncology into a recog-nized specialty within the AmericanCollege of Veterinary Internal Medi-cine(ACVIM). In 1987, the ACVIM
Compendium 
October 199920TH ANNIVERSARYSmall Animal/Exotics1985
The American Veterinary Medical Association  publishes a brochure entitled 
 Warning Signs for Cancerin Pets
The Veterinary Cooperative Oncology Group is founded 
1987
The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine recognizes oncology as a specialty,and the certification  process is established 
established oncology as a subspecial-ty within its organization. Today,there are more than 90 board-certi-fied ACVIM diplomates in oncolo-gy. In 1994, the American College of Veterinary Radiology established ra-diation oncology as a separate board,and there are currently 30 board-cer-tified veterinary radiation oncolo-gists. An additional significant contribu-tion to veterinary oncology was theestablishment of the Veterinary Co-operative Oncology Group (VCOG)in 1985. This group was establishedto enhance interactive collaborationand multicenter trials to broaden thegeneration of clinical data and thera-peutic studies. The VCOG has con-ducted a large number of retrospec-tive and prospective clinical studies,most of which have been publishedin the veterinary literature.
1994
The American College of Radiology establishes the subspecialty of  radiation oncology 
1999
The VCS and the ESVO hold their  first combined international meeting 
1990
The European Society of Veterinary Oncology (ESVO) holds its first annual congress 
 
s
Family Ties.
Studies conductedby Barker and Barker showedthat some dog owners are asemotionally close to their dogs asto their closest family member.More than one third of owners inthe study felt
closer 
to their dogsthan to any human family member.
1,2
References
1.Barker SB, Barker RT: Investigationof the construct validity of the Family Life Space Diagram.
 J Ment Health Couns 
12:506
514, 1990.2.Barker SB, Barker RT: The human-canine bond: Closer than family ties?
 J Ment Health Couns 
10:46
56,1988.
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