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COMPARATIVE ONCOLOGY: DOGS, CATS, AND MAN C. RICHARD DORN, D.V.M., M.P.H.* Introduction The study of a disease process in an animal species in order to better understand the disease counterpart in man has been a timehonored approach in medical research, especially cancer research. Comparisons of biological and environmental measurements, such as cancer incidence, host characteristics, geographic distribution, and exposure to microbial, physical, and chemical agents, can be made between animals and man as well as among animal species. Where differences exist, the reasons for them may be of fundamental etiologic significance. Where similarities exist, knowledge about a disease condition in one species may be applicable to another. This report contains descriptions of progress resulting from comparative studies of both naturally occurring cancer and experimentally induced tumors of dogs and cats. Through recognition of progress , as well as the problems encountered, more effective future research efforts can be planned. Dogs and cats were chosen for attention because recent efforts to quantitate the natural occurrence of cancer have concentrated on these species and because of similarities in cancer detection and diagnosis in medical and veterinary practice. Natural Occurrence The first to encounter spontaneous animal neoplasms as a medical problem were veterinary clinicians. Difficulty in distinguishing neoplasms from other diseases required the skills of microscopy possessed by the pathologist. In their classical descriptions of neoplasia, pathologists have made a most important contribution to our present understanding of the neoplastic process. Starting with Feldman's * Associate professor, Section of Epidemiology and Ecology, Department of Veterinary Microbiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, and Department of Community Health and Medical Practice, Medical School, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65201. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Summer 1972 | 507 classic "Neoplasms of Domesticated Animals" in 1932, a great deal of knowledge has been gained on the characteristics of neoplasms [I]. Such fundamental work in pathology has made possible uniform systems for classification. The Standard Nomenclature of Veterinary Diseases and Operations has been adopted by several veterinary medical colleges and international agencies [2]. Another system, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) developed by the World Health Organization, can be used for coding animal tumors as well as human tumors. The ICD is very useful for statistical analyses and provides comparability between dog, cat, and human data. When used by several different agencies, these classification systems provide larger numbers of cases for research than have been available in the past. The international coordination provided by the World Health Organization greatly facilitates this type of collaborative research [3]. Even though more animal clinical records are now available for epidemiologic studies, certain limitations have been encountered. It is often difficult to determine the population-at-risk for a particular case series [4-6]. The existing population data may represent a geographic region that does not correspond to clinic coverage. It has also been shown that hospital admissions and dog-license records when used as comparison groups for case series may give inconsistent results [5]. Furthermore, the case series may reflect selection resulting from referral of cases to certain clinicians because of their special interests or the availability of diagnostic facilities [7]. It is apparent that progress may be thwarted by total reliance on existing clinical and population data. In order to avoid some of the described problems, an animal neoplasm registry was developed in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, California [6, 8]. Diagnoses of neoplasms in these two counties by practicing veterinarians were uniformly classified in a central registry , and each case was confirmed by histopathologic examination. Estimates of the population-at-risk in Alameda County were derived from data collected in a survey of a random sample of households in the county. This registry has, for the first time, provided estimates of the incidence of cutaneous, mammary, connective tissue, oral, osseous, and lympho-reticular malignancies in dogs and cats [8]. This resource has also been used to examine the natural history of leukemia [9], canine cutaneous histiocytomas [10], mammary cancer [11] and feline squamous-cell carcinomas [12]. The lack of population-at-risk information for most canine- and 508 I C. Richard Dorn · Comparative Oncology feline-neoplasm case series has been very restrictive. Unfortunately, variation of population characteristics...


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