Special Services & Technology
The North Carolina Animal Cancer Program
The North Carolina Animal Cancer Program (NCACP) began in 1984, and is part of the Veterinary Health Complex in the College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University. In addition to being multidisciplinary, the NCACP is multi-institutional, involving collaborative activities with Colorado State University, Duke University Medical Center, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Functions of the NCACP
The primary functions of the NCACP are:
- To provide a comprehensive treatment center for privately-owned pet animals with cancer
- To provide instruction in clinical and investigative oncology to professional students in the College of Veterinary Medicine
- To provide residency programs in medical and radiation oncology for graduate veterinarians
- To provide graduate study in fields relating to cancer biology and/or treatment
- To conduct high quality research in cancer-related fields
Treatment of cancer in pets
The North Carolina Animal Cancer Program promotes an organized, comprehensive approach to management of cancer in animals. Cancer therapy is a rigorous undertaking, requiring multidisciplinary diagnostic and treatment capabilities. Excellent personnel and physical resources in the College of Veterinary Medicine support NCACP activities. Various treatment options are available, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hyperthermia. The multi-institutional nature of the program provides access to the latest cancer-related information and treatment strategies. Pets with cancer are typically elderly and have become integrated into the family. Often, difficult decisions regarding these patients have to be made. The program aims to provide the advice and expertise to help make and implement the best decision concerning the welfare of the pet.
When a patient is referred for evaluation, the pet is examined by students and veterinarians and options are presented to the owner describing what tests are necessary to reach the final diagnosis or, if the diagnosis is already known, what treatments are recommended. All of the resources of the Veterinary Health Complex at North Carolina State University are available for use if needed. At North Carolina State University, we are fortunate to have a highly educated and enthusiastic faculty of veterinarians to support the healthcare process. Additionally, very high quality diagnostic and therapeutic options are available. In the Oncology Service, we are very concerned that pet owners make the best possible decision regarding the care of their pet.
The NCACP has a long and productive history of studying tumor biology and new methods of cancer treatment. Through this effort, we hope that information will be provided that will be useful to veterinarians treating animal cancer and to physicians treating cancer in people. Ongoing research in the NCACP involves:
- Study of tumor heating (hyperthermia) as a cancer treatment method
- Targeted drug delivery via gene therapy and liposources
- Cytogenetic abnormalities and abnormalities in protein expression of tumors
- Development of targeted radiotherapy
Occasionally, ongoing clinical trials provide funds to partially offset the cost of cancer treatment in pets. Please check our clinical studies page for current clinical trials.
Liaison with Duke University Medical Center
There has been fruitful collaboration with investigators at Duke University Medical Center since the inception of the North Carolina Animal Cancer Program in 1984. Drs. Mark Dewhirst and Jeannie Poulson, both veterinarians, and faculty members in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Duke University Medical Center, are intimately involved with investigations of new cancer therapy and studies of cancer biology in pets with cancer. Drs. Dewhirst and Poulson also hold Adjunct Faculty appointments in the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University. Also, some faculty from North Carolina State University hold adjunct faculty appointments at Duke University Medical Center and are also members of the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Dr. Dewhirst is the Principal Investigator on a large grant funded by the National Cancer Institute that supports much of the work undertaken in pets with cancer. Funds from this grant are used, in part, to defray some of the cost of treatment for pets enrolled in ongoing clinical trials. It is important to note that treatments pets receive as part of this program benefit humans with cancer as well as future generations of pets. Very few programs in this country have such a symbiotic interaction between human and pet animal oncology.
Collaboration with Duke University Medical Center allows the latest in scientific discovery to be brought to the North Carolina Animal Cancer Program.