Clinical Trials

Dr. Barbara Biller
Colorado State University

Pet owners often ask us if we are aware of any CLINICAL TRIALS that may be available to their cat or dog who has been diagnosed with cancer.  While there certainly are a number of studies occurring around the world, participation in a clinical trial can often be difficult, especially if the trial is going on in a hospital or clinic far away from your home.

Each clinical trial has very specific qualifications for participation that include everything from the breed and age of the participant to the life expectancy, weight and of course the type of cancer.  Each study is very particular in its criteria for participation.  Something else to take into consideration is that clinical trials are NOT always free.  There may be fees to participate because grants may only cover a certain portion of the trial, and you may have to travel a long way to participate for several weeks or months perhaps.

What is a Clinical Research Trial?

The treatment of cancer in animals utilizes many of the same methods available in human medicine. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hypothermia, immunotherapy and photodynamic therapy are all part of the arsenal assembled to fight cancer in the pet animal.

Most clinical research trials investigating new methods of cancer diagnosis or treatment are conducted at colleges of veterinary medicine. Although considered “experimental,” effectiveness of the treatment has been proven in laboratory animals, safety has been demonstrated in normal dogs or cats, and the therapy is considered to be of potential benefit to the patient.

Patients entering a clinical trial must be carefully monitored.

Adherence to the treatment protocol is of vital importance to the veterinarian, the pet owner, and to future pets with cancer to ensure that the best in therapy and patient care is available. When a patient treated in a clinical trial dies, a necropsy (autopsy) must be conducted to know the entire effect of the treatment; positive and negative. Many naturally-occurring cancers in pet animals closely resemble human cancer and provide meaningful systems for cancer research to benefit both man and animals.

The veterinary facility providing the clinical trial, with owner’s permission, may provide specimens obtained from the patient (blood, urine, and/or tumor samples) to basic researchers to gain additional information that may benefit present and future cancer patients. It is important to remember, research is not conducted on the pet itself.

Searchable Clinical Trials Database

VCS has a searchable clinical trials database that you are may access to see if there is a trial that may be of benefit for your pet.   This site, sponsored by the Veterinary Cancer Society (VCS), was originally created by the Veterinary Cooperative Oncology Group (VCOG). While VCS represents a group of board-certified veterinary oncologists and associated specialists assembled to promote high quality veterinary oncology, VCOG promotes collaborative investigations through the establishment of common goals and endpoints for the purpose of benefiting both animals and people affected by cancer.

This site was designed for use by everyone who participates in the treatment of pet animals with cancer, including pet owners, general practice veterinarians, and oncologists and other specialty veterinarians. Information is provided to inform both private practice and academic veterinarians, and to promote accrual for the timely completion of clinical trials while providing state-of-the-art treatment options for pets with cancer.


Other Clinical Research Links

There are a number of veterinary hospitals, clinics and organizations who participate in clinical trials and we invite you to visit any of the following links that may provide you with additional information on clinical trials:

If you are interested in having us post a link on this website, please refer to our VCS Internet Link policy prior to emailing