Public Health Goals

Enhance Cancer Surveillance

The NY State Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative recently released data indicating differences in the major forms of cancer incidence by county suggesting wide variation in common cancers across the state. Such information, although preliminary, is highly suggestive of geographic differences in cancer risk.

Since companion animals share our environment they are exposed to the same environmental contaminants or carcinogens as are humans. For instance, it is known that:

  • asbestos produces mesotheliomas in dogs
  • second hand smoke is associated with increased respiratory cancers in dogs
  • aniline dyes produce bladder cancer in dogs
  • UV irradiation results in skin cancer in dogs and cats
  • exposure to herbicides increases the likelihood of dogs developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and testicular cancer.

Since these same agents have been linked to the identical types of cancer in humans, pets serve as sentinels of environmental or infectious agent cancer risk. A formal registry of animal cancers would complement the NY State human cancer registry to more quickly identify clusters of cancer occurrence.