The Colorado State University Flint Animal Cancer Center officially opened its doors in 2002. However, the roots for this organization were planted collectively in the late 70’s and early 80’s by Dr. Stephen Withrow, a veterinary surgeon, and Dr. Ed Gillette, a radiation biologist and veterinarian. At the time, veterinarians recognized that animals got cancer, but because no advanced diagnostics or treatments were available, clinicians were left to make a note in the patient record and observe the outcome which was almost universally fatal. Drs. Withrow and Gillette had the idea that cancer could be treated in animals, much like it was in humans. To take it a step further they hypothesized that naturally occurring cancers, particularly in dogs, were similar to many cancers in people, making dogs a relevant model in which to study cancer for both species. For that reason they dreamed of establishing a cancer research program that studied cancer in both animals and people, an area of study formally called comparative oncology.
The Promise of Comparative Oncology
Comparative oncology brings together studies of naturally occurring cancers in more than one species. Comparative oncology benefits animals and people. It benefits pets by treating their cancer and enhancing their wellbeing. It benefits people by translating discovery and innovative cancer treatments in companion animals to treatments for people. Thanks to the foresight of Drs. Withrow and Gillette, and under the leadership of Dr. Page today, the Flint Animal Cancer Center is recognized nationally and internationally for pioneering companion animal cancer care and comparative oncology research. In 2009, the center’s work in comparative oncology was formalized with the launch of the One Cure initiative. One Cure’s mission is to advance translational cancer research through comparative oncology clinical trials.
With funding from One Cure and other sources, Flint Animal Cancer Center faculty members have fully developed research programs in many areas of cancer inquiry, including tissue archiving, tumor immunology, pharmacology, experimental therapeutics, and radiation oncology. All research participants are client owned and loved animals with naturally occurring cancers, a fantastic model to learn about "cancer in the real world."
Cancer Diagnosis and Care
In addition to a robust research program, the Flint Animal Cancer Center’s clinical program is one of the best in the world for diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pet animals. Beyond the center’s commitment to extraordinary care, what makes the Flint Animal Cancer Center truly unique is our fully staffed clinical oncology team that includes medical, radiation and surgical oncologists, medical and radiation oncology residents, a surgical oncology fellow, dedicated oncology nurses, a clinical trials team, emotional support counselors, technicians, veterinary students and administrative support. The Flint Animal Cancer Center offers cutting edge diagnostics and comprehensive care options for all patients as well as emotional support for owners.
The Flint Animal Cancer Center manages 25 to 35 patients per day, or about 6,000 appointments per year, and provides an additional 2,000 consultations each year by phone and email. Our facility houses the latest in diagnostic imaging equipment including radiography, ultrasound, MRI, PET-CT, and nuclear medicine in addition to laboratory diagnostics and pathology. An animal dedicated PET-CT, a special type of CT that images the function of tumors, was installed at the center in the summer of 2009 and is available to patients. The Flint Animal Cancer Center was the first veterinary institution in the world to employ this technology.
Our work is supported by grateful clients and friends. Please join our team of hope. Your gift to the FACC can help your pet, your neighbor’s pet and also a friend or family member battling cancer. Together we can make a difference; together we can work toward a cure.