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Ask a Vet: Nothing made of cells is immune to cancer
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Today, I am 39 years old. About six years younger than my father was when he died from colon cancer.

He went pretty quickly after being diagnosed, but that was the ’70s. Since then, many advances have been made allowing for earlier detection and more effective treatment.

Still, half my genes come from him. With colon cancer being one of the more heritable forms of the disease, I get checked just in case.

Breast cancer is very much the same and can affect men as well as women. Consider that when you look back on your family line.

Even if you’re a member of one of the biggest rock bands of all time, being male doesn’t preclude you from developing breast cancer.

Our pets are in a similar situation. Anyone with a cell can get cancer, but certain breeds are more predisposed to certain types. Educate yourself about this and exercise vigilance just in case.

What follows is a very superficial summary of some of our more commonly diagnosed cancers in our companion animals.

Large, and especially giant breed, dogs are heavily predisposed to bone cancer.

Golden retrievers get more lymphoma and splenic cancer than most breeds.

Boxers share the lymphoma predisposition, as well as mast cell tumors on their skin.

Cats get lymphoma more than most other cancers. And in certain cats with a genetic predisposition, connective tissue tumors may occur at the site of vaccination.

But please remember this: Your cat is much more likely to become sick from a disease preventable by vaccination than it is to develop one of these types of tumors.

Rare brain tumors can give rise to Cushing’s disease or secondary development of diabetes.

Yes, your cat could have the same disease Andre the Giant suffered from. And your cat’s health and lifespan may be impacted, just like Andre’s.

So remember, we all can get it. Hoping you won’t is OK, but getting checked and making sure you know your risks are important. Even if it involves discomfort and embarrassment of the hospital gown variety.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at

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