A recent study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) says that cancer is a major threat to wild animal populations as well.
A newly published paper in the July edition of Nature Reviews Cancer
compiles information on cancer in wildlife and suggests that cancer poses a conservation threat to certain species. The WCS authors highlight the critical need to protect both animals and people through increased health monitoring.
"Cancer is one of the leading health concerns for humans, accounting for more than 10 percent of human deaths," said Dr. Denise McAloose, lead author and Chief Pathologist for WCS's Global Health program. "But we now understand that cancer can kill wild animals at similar rates."
In certain situations, cancer threatens the survival of entire species. The Tasmanian devil, the world's largest carnivorous marsupial, is at risk of extinction due to a cancer known as devil facial tumor disease. This form of contagious cancer spreads between individual Tasmanian devils through direct contact (primarily fighting and biting). To save the species from this fatal disease, conservationists are relocating cancer-free Tasmanian devils to geographically isolated areas or zoos.