Dr. Rodney Page, Director of the Sprecher Institute for Comparative Cancer Research is heading the Cancer Registry and Surveillance System for Companion Animals project. The project is mapping incidence of cancer in companion animals in Nassau County, Long Island and Central and Western New York. In its initial stages, the registry is best understood as a pilot study, intended to acquire sufficient data to validate the process, demonstrate the geospatial analytic skills needed, and provide preliminary data for future studies.
Why Study Companion Animals?
Dogs and cats live alongside their human companions. While they share some risk factors for cancer with us, including exposure to environmental chemicals, second-hand smoke, and inherited risk factors, they don't drink alcohol, smoke or make other lifestyle choices. Companion animals generally develop cancer due to environmental or inherited factors or a combination of the two. In an article in Cornell Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Page was quoted saying, "We're beginning to realize that cancer in companion animals may provide a vastly underutilized resource for cancer risk assessment in humans."
What is the Registry?
A cancer registry maps where cancer patients live and where various types of cancer occur. The New York State Department of Health has a human cancer registry in place. Dr. Page's registry maps cancer incidence data for dogs and cats. Several studies of incidence of cancer, including breast cancer, have been done for Long Island, New York. Dr. Page wants to gather data about pets in some of the same areas. At present, the registry includes data from specific geographic regions and about the most common forms of cancer in dogs and cats. Dr. Page plans to expand to more regions and more cancers. Suffolk, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan are targeted for 2005.
The early stages proved that the data collection and analysis systems are working correctly. The project is ready to begin a detailed evaluation of cancer distributions in companion animals. The geographic region being studied is expanding. A cancer awareness campaign is being developed for both veterinary professionals and pet owners in Nassau County to explain the impact environment has on cancer in both pets and people. Dr. Page discussed the project at the BCERF Cancer and Environment Forum in October 2004. Information about his presentation is available in the forum summary.
Leon Lowenstein Foundation
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Animal Health Foundation of Long Island
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