The mission of clinical research is supported by the large caseload seen at Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (MJR-VHUP). Pet owners travel from throughout the country to seek care for their pets diagnosed with cancer. Dr. Karin Sorenmo leads the school’s efforts in medical oncology, where patients undergo proven treatment protocols. Where current treatments lack safety or efficacy, new treatments are investigated through clinical trials. Dr. Sorenmo’s research interests include treatment of canine and feline mammary cancer, prostate cancer, hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma. Spontaneous canine and feline tumors allow for the study of cancer biology and the response to novel therapies in natural, immunocompetent, relevant tumor models. Dr. Lili Duda is the medical director of the Rosenthal Imaging and Treatment Center (RITC) and is one of only 60 board certified veterinary radiation oncologists. The RITC houses a 1.5T MRI (and soon a multi-slice helical CT scanner) which provide advanced imaging of cancer patients. It also includes a 6 MV linear accelerator, which, in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy, allows for multi-modality treatment of cancer patients.
For some tumors, surgery provides the only opportunity for a cure. The Soft Tissue Surgery service at MJR-VHUP provides options for surgical removal of tumors as a sole or adjunctive treatment of cancer in dogs, cats and exotic pets. Dr. Dottie Brown’s research has developed new options for treatment of chronic pain in patients with bone cancer. Dr. Chick Weisse has adapted advances in human medicine to provide minimally invasive methods of treating tumors with interventional radiology procedures. Penn was one of the first universities to establish a specialty in veterinary dentistry and oral surgery, and a large portion of the service’s case load involves oral surgical oncology cases. The Dentistry and Oral Surgery service provides surgical treatment of oral tumors in dogs and cats, including reconstructive efforts after mandibulectomy and maxillectomy. Current studies of oral tumors include evaluation of novel treatments for feline oral squamous cell carcinoma and staging of canine oral melanoma. The surgery section provides a service to basic researchers by banking of excised tumors which may provide important insights in treatment of both veterinary and human cancers.