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Is Cancer be caused by vaccinating my kitty?
Vaccine Associated Sarcoma, or VAS, is a fast-growing,
aggressive feline cancer that is very often fatal. VAS has
been linked to both feline leukemia and rabies vaccines.
Vaccine Associated Sarcoma develops at the injection site of
vaccines, and is thought to affect three in every ten
thousand vaccinated cats. And some veterinarians believe
that the incidents of VAS may be much higher than that
number, up to one cat in every one thousand cats vaccinated.
Because this is a very aggressive cancer, cat owners and
their veterinarians have become very concerned. The problem
has become so serious that many veterinarians vaccinate cats
only in the hind leg or tail because that body part is more
easily surgically removed in the event a cancer develops.
The first case of VAS was documented in the 1980's. VAS is a
sarcoma, that is, a malignant cancerous tumor that grows in
connective tissue such as ligaments. This type of tumor
grows quickly and metastasizes to other parts of the cat's
body quickly. It is suspected that the tumor originally
starts growing because the cat's immune system rejects the
vaccination and a tumor is the result.
The only way to remove a VAS tumor is with surgery, but this
isn't always effective. One of the problems with this type
of sarcoma is that it sends out microscopic tendrils into
surrounding healthy tissue and even after surgery remaining
bits of these tendrils can eventually re-grow a tumor. Often
the tumor re-grows not long after the surgery to remove the
original tumor. In sixty-two percent of VAS surgeries, the
tumor has grown back within six months.
Vaccine associate sarcoma is traced specifically to the
aluminum that was placed in the vaccines to boost immune
response to the vaccine. It can take anywhere from a couple
of weeks to years for a tumor to appear from a rabies or
feline leukemia vaccination. VAS tends to develop in cats
that are between the ages of seven and nine years of age.
Vaccination of your cat is still recommended and in a many
places rabies vaccination is mandatory for pet cats.
However, the American Association of Feline Practitioners
has suggested that rabies shots should not be given every
year, but every three years. And there is evidence to
suggest that older cats may not need booster shots at all
and that the shots that a kitten gets may be all that the
cat needs for the rest of its life.
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