Millions of pets are diagnosed with cancer every year in the United States, and Pet Cancer Awareness Month seeks to increase awareness about the prevalence, detection, and treatment of pet cancer. As part of Pet Cancer Awareness Month, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, has partnered with the Animal Cancer Foundation (ACF) and organized the Long Beach K9K Pet Cancer Awareness Walk, which will take place on Saturday, Nov. 13th, 2010.
According to VPI, many pet owners do not even know that their pets can develop cancer, and many underestimate the cost of treating cancer in pets. Between 2003 and 2009, VPI policyholders spent more than $51.2 million treating the ten most common cancers in pets. The most expensive form of cancer, bone cancer, cost policyholders an average of $2,304 per claim. Among VPI’s policyholders, the most common cancer in pets is lymphosarcoma (cancer of lymphocyte blood cells) with 34,457 policyholders making a claim for treatment. The second most common type of cancer is a mast cell tumor, with 19,249 claims, and the third most common is Bone Cancer, with 10,120 claims. Other types of cancer in the ten most common include cancer of the eyelid, thorax, spleen, and mouth.
VPI recommends that owners be vigilant for signs of cancer – since early detection can both decrease the potential cost of treatment and increase the chances of survival. Any growing lump or sore that fails to heal, drastic changes in a pet’s appetite or weight, unusually strong odors coming from a pet, discharge or bleeding from any body opening, difficulty chewing or swallowing, or an unwillingness to exercise should all be considered as potential signs of cancer in a pet.
Photo courtesy Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.