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Cancer Spreading to Dogs as a Parasite

This article follows up on another posting here a while back on how a form of cancer seems to have arisen from one wolf. This...

Joy  |  Sep 1st 2006


This article follows up on another posting here a while back on how a form of cancer seems to have arisen from one wolf. This article comes to us from The Toronto Star and I first saw it mentioned on Poochmaster.

Cancer found to spread among world’s dogs as a parasite

ROBERT COOKE
SPECIAL TO THE STAR

A strange form of cancer is being transmitted as an infectious agent among the world’s dogs, without help from viruses or bacteria, a research team in England has found.

The discovery, reported in the journal Cell, shows how a single cancer cell can become a parasite, grow and then spread worldwide in susceptible animals. The researchers said the disease is apparently transmitted sexually. It arose in wolves as much as 2,500 years ago, then spread to coyotes and dogs.

The new study is the first to document cancer being spread from animal to animal on its own. Viruses are known to cause some cancers when they damage critical genes during infection. But now it’s clear cancer can get around solo, then spread through a population.

What this means for humans is not known, the researchers said, although it does suggest studies should be done on prostate and cervical cancer to see if they can spread the same way. The findings in dogs warn that in addition to viruses, bacteria, fungi and other parasites, cancer cells can act as infectious agents. “The cancer escaped its original body and became a parasite” transmitted from dog to dog until it had colonized all over the world, said Dr. Robin Weiss, head of the research team at University College in London.

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