A dog prepares to undergo radiation oncology treatment at NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. There are striking similarities between several animal and human cancers, which opens a window of discovery for the college’s researchers. Clinical work at CVM is already helping very sick patients live longer and better. Photo by John Joyner/NC State Veterinary Medicine

Can researching cancer treatment in dogs and cats have long-term impact on human cancer treatment?

The answer is yes, and the proof is in the work done by Dr. Michael Nolan, associate professor, radiation oncology and biology, and others at NC State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Nolan is leading research in two separate areas. The first involves clinical trials – testing new cancer treatments in companion animals that have naturally occurring cancer. The second, and where Nolan’s passion lies, is in lab research – studying the complications of cancer treatment to improve quality of life in patients.

“Cancer can cause a great deal of discomfort, and side effects of cancer treatment can also be quite painful. Our goal really is to find ways to prevent, or at least better manage, discomfort that’s experienced by cancer patients,” Nolan said.

For example, the work might help a patient experiencing pain following surgery for cancer treatment, or a patient who develops sores from radiation treatment, he said.

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Originally published September 18, 2018.

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