A long awaited blood test to detect cancer in dogs has been developed by Canadian company BioCurex.
The test identifies the presence of a universal marker for malignant cell growth, and in trial studies was able to detect 85 percent of a variety of the most common types of cancers in dogs at the standard 95 percent specificity.
The test indicates the likelihood that a malignancy is present with a high degree of accuracy, however, it does not specify the type of cancer, what stage it is at, or if it has spread and metastasized. It can be used to detect cancer cells in all breeds of dogs and mixes.
Veterinary offices will be able to send blood samples either to the developer’s facility directly or to a regional collection center for processing. Results can be expected in about a week.
The cost of the test to pet owners in North America is expected to run $90 - $120 plus shipping.
Similar tests for other companion animals are under development, and BioCurex hopes to have a test for cancers in cats available by the end of this year.
It’s difficult to think about your beloved dog with a life-threatening disease, but many who’ve lost a four-legged family member to cancer know the challenges of getting an affordable, accurate diagnosis.
And very often, the diagnosis comes too late.
This new blood test is, of course, a doubled-edged sword. Learning your pup has cancer is the downside. But the earlier it is detected, the better your dog’s chances of survival.
Forewarned is Forearmed
As an integrative wellness veterinarian, I view this new blood test primarily as a diagnostic tool to help dog owners – especially those with breeds known to be at a higher risk for cancer – with early detection of the disease.
With that goal in mind, in this article you’ll find lots of information about specific dog breeds and the cancers they are most likely to develop. The purpose of this information is not to frighten or disturb you, but simply to give you additional insight into potential health problems your pup might encounter.
If your dog is a high risk breed, the decision is ultimately yours whether you request the new blood test during regular visits to your vet.
If you have questions about the test or your dog’s cancer risk, I encourage you to meet with your holistic veterinarian to discuss your concerns.
Some Dog Breeds Are at Greater Risk than Others
Cancer is the leading cause of death among dogs and cats in the U.S., Europe and Japan. In fact, your pet is more likely to get cancer than you are.
More than half of all dogs will die of cancer, and some breeds have even higher rates of death from the disease.
The highest risk breeds for death from cancer are:[i]
|Breed||Percent of Cancer Deaths||Breed||Percent of Cancer Deaths|
|Giant Schnauzer||37%||German Shepherd Dog||15%|
|Bernese Mountain Dog||33%||St. Bernard||13%|
|Irish Wolfhound||25%||Great Dane||12%|
|Doberman Pinscher||22%||Basset Hound||>10%|
Common Types of Cancers
Skin cancers are the most common cancers in dogs and include:
- Squamous cell carcinomas
- Mast cell tumors
Bone cancer or osteosarcoma is also common and is more often found in larger breeds like Dobermans, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Irish Setters and St. Bernards.
Lymphoma is cancer found in solid organs like the liver, spleen, bone marrow and lymph nodes, and may also occur in the eye, skin and gastrointestinal tract.
Certain breeds seem to be growing more prone to lymphoma, and at a younger age. Golden Retrievers top the list as the most at-risk breed, a list which also includes:
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What about My Dog?
The following is a table of some of the more popular breeds and the cancers they are most prone to develop.
|Breed||Types of Cancer||Breed||Types of Cancer|
|Airedale||Melanoma, Lymphosarcoma, Pancreatic carcinoma||Greyhound||None..although beginning to see haemangiosarcoma|
|Alaskan Malamute||Sebaceous gland tumor, Anal sac adenocarcinoma||Havanese||None|
|Australian Shepherd||None||Irish Setter||Trichoepithelioma, Sebaceous gland tumor, Haemangiopericytoma, Lymphoma, Melanoma, Insulinoma|
|Basset Hound||Mast cell tumor, Cutaneous haemangioma, Lymphosarcoma||Jack Russell||Pituitary tumor|
|Beagle||Mast cell tumor, Sebaceous gland tumor, Haemangiopericytoma, Perianal gland adenoma, Lymphosarcoma||Labrador Retriever||Mast cell tumor, Cutaneous histiocytoma, Sq. cell carcinoma, Nasal cavity tumors, Insulinoma, Lymphosarcoma, Limbal melanoma, Oral Fibrosarcoma, Thymoma|
|Bichon Frise||Basal cell tumor||Lhasa Apso||Sebaceous gland tumor, Keratocanthoma, Perianal gland adenoma|
|Boston Terrier||Mast cell tumor, Melanoma, Fibroma, Primary brain tumor||Miniature Pinscher||None|
|Boxer||Mast cell tumor, Melanoma, Cutaneous haemangioma, Histiocytoma, Sq. cell carcinoma, Fibroma, Thyroid neoplasia, Insulinoma, Osteosarcoma, Primary brain tumor, Lymphosarcoma||Pekingese||Sq. cell carcinoma|
|Brittany Spaniel||Liposarcoma (Lipoma)||Poodle||Basal cell tumor, Trichoepithelioma, Sebaceous gland tumor, Sq. cell carcinoma, Insulinoma, Pituitary tumor, Adrenalcortical tumor, Lymphosarcoma, Limbal melanoma, Oral melanoma, Testicular neoplasia|
|Bulldog (English)||Mast cell tumor, Lymphosarcoma||Pug||Oral melanoma, Mast cell tumor|
|Cavalier King Charles Spaniel||None||Rottweiler||Sq. cell carcinoma, Histiocytoma, Osteosarcoma|
|Chihuahua||Melanoma, Testicular neoplasia||Schnauzer||Trichoepithelioma, Sebaceous gland tumor, Melanoma, Lipoma, Histiocytoma, Sq. cell carcinoma, Testicular neoplasia, Limbal melanoma,|
|Chow||Melanoma, Lymphosarcoma||Scottish Terrier||Mast cell tumor, Melanoma, Histiocytoma, Sq. cell carcinoma, Lymphoma, Primary brain tumor|
|Cocker Spaniel||Basal cell tumor, Sweat gland tumor, Trichoepithelioma, Cutaneous papilloma, Sebaceous gland tumor, Plasmacytoma, Histiocytoma, Fibrosarcoma, Perianal gland adenoma, Anal sac adenocarcinoma, Melanoma, Lipoma||Shar Pei||Histiocytoma, Mast cell tumor|
|Collie||Sweat gland tumor, Histiocytoma, Haemangiopericytoma, Nasal cavity tumors, Colorectal neoplasia||Sheltie||Histiocytoma, Basal cell tumor, Lipoma, Nasal cavity tumors, Testicular neoplasia|
|Dachshund||Anal sac adenocarcinoma, Lipoma, Mast cell tumor, Sq.cell carcinoma, Histiocytoma, Ocular melanoma||Shih Tsu||Sebaceous gland tumor, Perianal gland adenomas|
|Dalmatian||Actinic keratosis, Cutaneous haemangioma||Siberian Husky||Basal cell tumor, Sebaceous gland tumor, Haemangiopericytoma, Perianal gland adenoma, Testicular neoplasia|
|Doberman||Melanoma, Lipoma, Histiocytoma, Fibroma, Myxoma, Primary brain tumor||Springer Spaniel||Trichoepithelioma, Histiocytoma, Melanoma, Anal sac adenocarcinoma|
| Fox Terrier |
|Mast cell tumor, Fibroma, Haemangiopericytoma, Schwannoma, Insulinoma||Weimaraner||Mast cell tumor, Lipoma|
|German Shepherd||Sweat gland tumor, Trichoepithelioma, Anal sac adenocarcinoma, Cutaneous haemangioma, Lymphoma, Myxoma, Nasal cavity tumors, Colorectal neoplasia, Insulinoma, Limbal melanoma, Testicular neoplasia, Thymoma||Welsh Corgi||None|
|Golden Retriever||Mast cell tumor, Sweat gland tumor, Trichoepithelioma, Melanoma, Haemangioma, Histiocytoma, Fibroma, Lymphosarcoma, Nasal cavity tumors, Thyroid neoplasia, Insulinoma, Primary brain tumor, Fibrosarcoma||Westie||Histiocytoma|
|Great Dane||Histiocytoma, Osteosarcoma||Yorkshire Terrier||Keratocanthoma, Pituitary tumor, Testicular neopla|
Signs of Cancer or Other Diseases
I recommend regular at-home wellness exams and twice yearly visits to your holistic veterinarian as the best way to stay on top of your dog’s physical condition. Routinely checking your dog’s internal organ function is also important. I am excited to offer this new blood test at my practice because it’s non-invasive and provides invaluable information that could ultimately save more lives.
To recognize signs of ill health, you must know your pup and keep an eye out for changes in her behavior or appearance.
Symptoms to watch for include:
- Difficulty eating or swallowing
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits
- Exercise intolerance
- Lameness, stiffness, or other movement difficulties
- Lumps or swellings anywhere on the body
- Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
- Sores that don’t heal
- Offensive or unusual odor
Prevention is the Best Treatment
The causes of cancer in pets are not well understood, but there are a number of things you can do to give your beloved pup the best possible chance at avoiding disease.
- Feed a nutritionally balanced species-appropriate diet which includes the right amounts of essential fatty acids
- Insure regular and adequate exercise
- Brush your pup’s teeth every day
- Keep your dog’s immune system healthy
- Eliminate exposure to chemical toxins, including tobacco smoke
- Reduce the number of unnecessary vaccines
If your dog is diagnosed with cancer, there is hope. Early detection and advances in integrative veterinary medicine offer multiple treatment options that can add years to your precious pup’s life.