January 21, 2014
by Coleman Cornelius
Colorado State University Distinguished Professor and founder of the Flint Animal Cancer Center, Dr. Steve Withrow kicked off the President's Community Lecture Series with his talk, "Stories from a Career in Oncology: One Medicine. One Cancer. One Cure," Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the University Center for the Arts.
Withrow founded what is now the world's largest center focused on veterinary oncology, with 100 scientists and clinicians who handle about 5,000 appointments and 3,000 consultations annually.
He described the focus of his career as a surgical oncologist: translational medicine. The phrase encapsulates the concept of treating dogs with naturally occurring cancer as a route to better understanding the disease, and its successful treatment, in people.
"Dogs and cats get cancer, and we can learn from that. Dogs really have something to say in this game," he explained.
At one point in his career, Withrow had the chance to enter human medicine. But he turned down the opportunity because he realized his work in veterinary medicine could have more impact curing cancer in people by considering pet dogs with cancer as a model for improving treatment in human patients.
One in three people will develop cancer in his or her lifetime. Yet proof of medical progress is found in the 20 percent reduction in cancer-related deaths over the past 20 years.
"It's not for the faint of heart," Withrow said. "We are making progress, but it's a slow, steady slog."
The acclaimed veterinary oncologist said he has been inspired through the years by children with cancer, especially the young patients he has met and supported as a longtime volunteer with Sky High Hope Camp.
The experience has provided a motto for the team at the Flint Animal Cancer Center: "We care, and we cure," Withrow said.
The President’s Community Lecture Series, initiated by CSU President Tony Frank, celebrates the partnership between the University and the city of Fort Collins to mark the city's 150th anniversary. Withrow's talk drew a capacity crowd.
Missed the lecture? Check it out!