Lesley's Place is a nonprofit organization committed to making a difference for homeless dogs with mammary tumors while advancing breast cancer research for all. It is our mission to use our knowledge, tools, and research to make new discoveries that can benefit dogs and women suffering from mammary tumors.
Pet overpopulation is a serious problem in the U.S. Despite guidelines from the AVMA and early spay/neuter programs, too many unwanted dogs end up homeless and suffer incredible hardships. Statistics from the ASPCA report that 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters every year. Since many animals might not even make it to the shelter, these numbers are low-ball estimates.
Thanks to the incredible work of animal shelters and rescue organizations, some animals are reunited with their owners, but there are far too many that never make it out of shelters. Certain dogs, like those with mammary tumors (who are often older and require expensive treatment), are considered less adoptable for various reasons. These are the vulnerable dogs we want to help through Lesley's Place.
We believe their lives are worth saving, and by saving them, we can also learn more about breast cancer and contribute to science. The care they will receive through Lesley's Place will not only provide treatment for their mammary tumors, but also render them more adoptable, and provide the opportunity for a new lease on life in a good home.
The other purpose of this program is to advance breast cancer research. What can studying dogs with mammary tumors teach us about breast cancer in women?
Mammary tumors in dogs and breast cancer in women remain a common cause of cancer mortality all over the world. We can only find a solution for this through research, more specifically through innovative, comparative, and translational research. In fact, by using dogs with naturally occurring mammary cancer, we can answer questions regarding breast cancer development and progression that remain some of the most challenging questions in breast cancer biology.
Mammary tumors in dogs and breast cancer in women have many similarities in terms of risk factors, hormonal dependence, molecular alterations, and biological behavior. Hormone receptor-positive breast cancers are the most common subtypes in both dogs and women, and are associated with a better prognosis than the hormone receptor-negative group. Drug resistance and metastasis remain the most common cause for treatment failures and death in both groups. To date, much of what is done for dogs with mammary tumors is based on what is done for women with breast cancer.
Thus, women with breast cancer are models for dogs with mammary tumors. Because of the shorter biological natural lifespan in dogs, we believe that studying dogs with mammary tumors can provide faster results and help us fill in the gaps in our current knowledge of breast carcinogenesis and progression, and provide a relevant and comprehensive model for human breast cancer.
Click here to learn more about mammary tumors.