Every year in the United States, about 8 million cats and dogs develop cancer. One field of therapy that’s pushing the treatment envelope involves cancer vaccines.
Cancer cells have devised ways of hiding from the body’s immune system so they can survive and multiply. But vaccines can expose tumor cells as foreign invaders and stimulate the immune system to destroy them.
So far, commercially available vaccines target melanoma in dogs, cats and horses as well as lymphoma and osteosarcoma in dogs. Researchers are also exploring ways of making personalized vaccines from an animal’s own deactivated tumor cells so that each patient’s immune system can target and destroy unique tumors.
Vaccines have saved millions of animals from infectious diseases. Maybe they can do the same when it comes to cancer.