The Guidelines for the Welfare of Animals in Experimental Neoplasia have been developed by the United Kingdom Coordinating Committee of Cancer Research (UKCCCR).

This ad hoc committee was charged in 1988 by the major organisations in the UK involved in the funding of cancer research, to develop guidelines for research workers using animals in experimental neoplasia. The second, modified version of these guidelines was published in 1997 and can be downloaded here.

UKCCCR Guidelines for the Welfare of animals in Experimental Neoplasia

Relevant topics in the Guidelines are:

General recommendations:

  1. All involved staff should be aware of their individual legal and ethical responsibilities  and a clear chain of responsibility and consultation should be established.
  2. Determine possible disadvantageous (welfare)effects which can occur.
  3. The degree of pain and distress must be minimised by judicious use of anaesthetics and analgesics, the refinement of experimental techniques, and the early implementation of humane end points.
  4. Where certain procedures cause particular concern, these must be addressed  specifically in the Project Licence application.
  5. Execute pilot experiments.
  6. Stimulate researchers to publish improvements in humane endpoints.
  7. The design of all experiments should meet the highest scientific standards.

APPENDIX 3 - Humane endpoints and limiting clinical signs

Experimental protocols and severity limits in project licences should specify early experimental or humane end points requiring appropriate intervention. Criteria for such endpoints should be determined before the study commences. The following clinical signs may be useful:

  1. Persistent anorexia or dehydration.
  2. Consistent or rapid body weight loss of 20% maintained for 72 hours.
  3. Unable to maintain an upright position or to move.
  4. Muscle atrophy or emaciation.
  5. Moribund, lethargic or failure to respond to gentle stimuli.
  6. Hypothermia.
  7. Unconscious or comatose.
  8. Bloodstained or mucopurulent discharge from any orifice.
  9. Laboured respiration - particularly if accompanied by nasal discharge and/or cyanosis.
  10. Enlarged lymph nodes or spleen.
  11. Anaemia
  12. Ulcerated tumours or large tumours that interfere with normal movement.
  13. Significant abdominal distension or where the ascites burden exceeds 10% of the baseline bodyweight.
  14. Incontinence or prolonged diarrhoea.

Where any one of these signs is present in a single animal then the animal should be killed immediately and any remaining animals observed closely for changes in their condition.