Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cats Help Researchers Develop Treatment for Breast Cancer

A couple of years after my breast cancer diagnosis, a friend called and told me her cat, Abby, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Abby was fairly young, about 6 (the cat, not the friend) and she felt lumps on her stomach when picking her up. She took her to the vet and was told the not so good diagnosis.

For cats, there is no chemo or radiation. They basically can  have a surgery that can best be thought of as a kitty mastectomy and that's about it. For Abby, even after the surgery, she lasted less than a  year before it became obvious that the cancer had spread and was causing her lots of pain and very difficult decision was made.

That was my first knowledge of feline breast cancer. And then I did some research and found out it is a fairly common killer of female cats.

But now, cats are being used to help find a breast cancer treatment. Cats are more closely related to humans than mice. I don't even know if mice get breast cancer. Usually for clinical trials they are bred to have certain conditions so they are more appropriate for the potential trials.

The cats get an injection before surgery and then again a month later. They are then monitored to see if there is a recurrence - which is usually what kills them now. The hope is they will live longer, healthier lives.

So in my (tiny, non-medical, chemo impaired, fibro fogged) mind, it would make sense to do research for breast cancer on animals that actually get the disease in hopes of curing them as well as humans. I am not in favor of animal testing as a rule but in this case, they are hoping to cure the cats from something for which there is no current cure.

I am a cat lover and am typing this while being supervised by my 20 year old cat. I would hope this would be a treatment for them and us.

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