Comparative oncology: what dogs and other species can teach us about humans with cancer
Over 1.66 million humans (approx. 500/100 000 population rate) and over 4.2 million dogs (approx. 5300/100 000 population rate) are diagnosed with cancer annually in the USA. The interdisciplinary field of comparative oncology offers a unique and strong opportunity to learn more about universal cancer risk and development through epidemiology, genetic and genomic investigations. Working across species, researchers from human and veterinary medicine can combine scientific findings to understand more quickly the origins of cancer and translate these findings to novel therapies to benefit both human and animals. This review begins with the genetic origins of canines and their advantage in cancer research. We next focus on recent findings in comparative oncology related to inherited, or genetic, risk for tumour development. We then detail the somatic, or genomic, changes within tumours and the similarities between species. The shared cancers between humans and dogs that we discuss include sarcoma (osteosarcoma, soft tissue sarcoma, histiocytic sarcoma, hemangiosarcoma), haematological malignancies (lymphoma, leukaemia), bladder cancer, intracranial neoplasms (meningioma, glioma) and melanoma. Tumour risk in other animal species is also briefly discussed. As the field of genomics advances, we predict that comparative oncology will continue to benefit both humans and the animals that live among us.