Thursday, October 29, 2009

~Dogs, Cats Help in Breast Cancer Fight

Breast cancer survivor Missy Fish and her cat Jack. Missy and Jack are a part of the Purina Cat Chow Connected for the Cause campaign to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Business Wire
As Breast Cancer Awareness Month draws to a close, it's a good time to recognize our furry friends' contributions to the cause.

Not only do they allow themselves to be dressed in pink to help us garner attention, but research shows some serious medical aid on their part.

Most in the medical community now acknowledge the healing power of animals. Some doctors even write prescriptions giving hospitalized patients access to pets from home. (However, pets can still infect some with weakened immune systems -- for instance, people who've gone through chemo.)

Dogs may also have a role in diagnosis. More than five years ago studies showed that dogs can smell cancer, and more recent research has identified the chemicals that make up some of those "scent profiles."

Of course, cats and dogs are at risk of cancer themselves. For both, most cancers that afflict them can be spotted through physical exams -- checking the skin, looking in the mouth, watching for swelling, etc. But nothing you do at home can replace a vet visit.

Dogs with cancer may be able to advance the diagnosis and treatment of human cancers due to clinical and biological similarities, The National Cancer Institute reported earlier this month.

--Anne Godlasky, USA TODAY