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The search for cancer cures is hard but not impossible


Trying to cure our pets may be metaphorically compared with eliminating weeds. Cancer cells may be surgically removed or destroyed with toxic agents o radiation, but it is difficult to completely eliminate them. Surgery and diagnose methods can hardly discover every metastases. And, usually, toxic agents are also harmful for normal cells. Remaining cancer cells may colonize new tissues, hence, developing new metastases, with the probability that this cells are now resistant to treatment. Nevertheless, the outlook is not necessarily negative. 

Beyond drawbacks, effective cures have been developed using new drugs alone or in combination with other treatments. This has been seen in formerly lethal cancers (dog and cats lymphomas, some feline leukemias).


If the disease is diagnosed early, there is a big chance that animals may recover from some of the most common cancers. Surgery, chemotherapy and local radiotherapy our often used. In some cases, the success is highly related with identifying the causes of a specific type of cancer.  Even when final cure is not an option, some treatments can prolong life or at least release the animals from pain


A huge field in veterinary research is aimed to selectively kill cancer cells. Present methods use subtle differences between benign and malignant cells to achieve this, but they usually have important side-effects. Examples are proliferation speed, metabolism, radiation sensitivity. Some malignant cells are specially vulnerable, because they depend on hormones to grow or they express antigens that are recognized by the immune system. Nevertheless, progress in selective therapies has been slow -associated with problems to identify the differences, trials and errors, planning, length of treatments and some "guessing" also involved-.

In the search for better treatments to control survival, proliferation and dissemination of cancer cells, it is important to examine in detail the strategies by which this cells survive and multiply.