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Our History

The Colorado State University Flint Animal Cancer Center officially opened its doors in 2002. However, the roots for this organization were planted collectively by Dr. Stephen Withrow, a veterinary surgeon, and Dr. Ed Gillette, a radiation biologistCSU ACC and veterinarian in the late 70's and early 80's. This was at a time when veterinarians recognized that animals got cancer but because no advanced diagnostics or treatments were available, these clinicians were left to make a note in the patient record and observe the outcome. The outcome was almost universally fatal. Drs. Withrow and Gillette had the idea that cancer could be treated in animals, much like it was in humans. To take it a step further they hypothesized that naturally occurring cancers, particularly in dogs, were similar to many cancers in people, making dogs a relevant model in which to study cancer for both species. For that reason they dreamed of establishing a cancer research program that studied cancer in both animals and people.

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Fast forward 30 years... The CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center (FACC) is now internationally recognized as the leader in clinical veterinary oncology and cancer research - that benefits animals and humans alike.

ACC based faculty members have fully developed research programs in many areas of cancer research including tissue archiving, tumor immunology, pharmacology, experimental therapeutics, musculoskeletal oncology, clinical trials, pathology, molecular genetics, imaging and radiation oncology. The research subjects are client owned and loved animals with naturally occurring cancers, a fantastic model to learn about "cancer in the real world." To advance our knowledge of cancer, clients have the option to enroll their pets in clinical trials aimed to develop new treatments and to archive tumor and normal tissue for future research. These tumor samples are critical to advance knowledge of how cancer behaves on a molecular level and to help develop new therapeutic targets treatments.

In addition to a robust research program, the clinical program is one of the best available for diagnostics and treatment of cancer in pet animals. The FACC has a fully staffed clinical oncology team that includes medical, radiation and surgical oncologists, medical and radiation oncology residents, a surgical oncology fellow, dedicated oncology nurses, a clinical trials team, emotional support counselors, technicians, veterinary students and administrative support. This team provides cutting edge diagnostics, treatment and emotional support through the management of your pet's cancer.

The facility houses the latest in diagnostic imaging equipment including MRI, CT, and nuclear medicine in addition to laboratory diagnostics and pathology. An animal dedicated PET-CT, a special type of CT that images the function of tumors, was installed at the center in the summer of 2009 and is available to patients. This is a first for a veterinary institution in the world.

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Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy (including clinical trials) and radiation therapy on the Varian Trilogy, the most advanced radiation therapy machine available. We are co-located with the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and therefore we are a full service operation and can draw on the expertise of other veterinary specialists when needed. For example oncology patients commonly receive diagnostics through the imaging and pathology services. The expert anesthesia team is critical for any procedure that requires general anesthesia such as MRI, CT or PET scan and surgery, and all of our patients recover from surgical procedures in CSU's critical care unit before discharge. Naturally if an opinion is needed from specialists in ophthalmology, neurology, orthopedics, internal medicine, pain management, dermatology, radiology or pathology all of this can occur in the same building.

Cancer is a disease that affects the whole family. We recognize how difficult the diagnosis and treatment is emotionally for the family. For this reason the Argus Institute counselors are an integral part of our clinical team. They provide communication and emotional support through the whole process.

Because of our organizational structure we rely heavily on private sector support for operations. We encourage open dialogue on your experiences at the FACC and are happy to explain our plans for the future in any area of teaching, clinical service, research and outreach.

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Update: July 2010

As of July 1, 2010 we have entered a new chapter of leadership at the Flint Animal Cancer Center when
Dr. Rodney Page returned "home" to Colorado to assume the directorship from Dr. Withrow. Dr. Page was one of Dr. Withrow's students back in the 1980's at CSU! After an impressive career at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, North Carolina State and Cornell University, he has come back to where he grew up to continue to help the FACC be the world's leader in animal cancer and translational oncology research. Dr. Withrow continues to be a leader in the FACC as the Associate Director and is happy to devote more of his time to teaching, taking care of patients and their people and fundraising. It is a win, win for all of us at the FACC and for cancer patients everywhere!

We welcome you to our website and encourage you to explore it to learn more about our program.