Calusa Veterinary Center

Blood Test For Early Cancer Detection In Dogs

Most veterinarians will agree that cancer is a significant concern for canine patients. Although both dogs and humans have roughly a 1-in-3 risk of developing the disease, dogs have much shorter lifespans, so the annual incidence rate in dogs is actually 10 times higher than in humans.

By Dr. Andrew Turkell, DVM, CVA, CCRT, CHT-V

Approximately 6 million new canine cancer diagnosis are made each year in the US. Unfortunately, the disease is not only common but also deadly. It is the leading cause of mortality in adult dogs, taking more best friends than the next five causes of death in dogs combined. Why is this disease so challenging to combat, and how can cancer screening provide better early detection?

Is There A Blood Test For Early Cancer Detection In Dogs?

As the leading cause of death in canines over 1 year of age, cancer is a word that strikes an emotional chord in pet owners and veterinarians alike. Unfortunately for many dogs, cancer is not detected until patients are exhibiting clinical signs and disease is advanced.

It's difficult to combat because it’s hard to find the disease process early enough to make a difference…but that has changed!

The answer is new technology called Multi-Cancer Early Detection (MCED) tests.

Early detection and treatment are the best ways to manage cancer in pets… cancer is frequently treatable and early diagnosis will aid your veterinarian in delivering the best care possible.

When cells die, they shed their DNA into the blood, where it is broken into fragments, called cell-free DNA. Neoplastic cells leak DNA containing genetic mutations specific to the tumor of origin. This DNA is not found in normal blood tests. It is also not found in cells affected by normal inflammation or infection, making these DNA fragments, a unique marker, or liquid biopsy of cancer.

The liquid biopsy called OncoK9 or Nu.Q, utilizes next generation sequencing to identify this DNA, called a cancer signal, in canine blood samples. Detection of a cancer signal indicates that tumor cells were present in the dog’s body at the time of blood collection.

In a clinical validation study that evaluated over 1,100 dogs, the test was found to have a 98.5% specificity for neoplasia, detecting over 30 types of cancer.

Liquid biopsy offers a new tool that veterinarians can use for the detection of multiple types of cancer in at-risk but asymptomatic patients, as a diagnostic aid when cancer is suspected, and as a cancer monitoring tool. Patient outcomes will improve because of earlier detection.

Which dogs may benefit from EARLY DETECTION? ALL DOGS 7 years old or older. Older dogs are at higher risk of cancer, regardless of breed. Consider adding this test to their routine wellness exams.

Screening tests such as OncoK9 and Nu.Q would be most effective when used on an annual basis, particularly in older dogs and in those breeds prone to cancer, and younger dogs of breeds at higher risk.

Certain breeds, have a higher lifetime risk of cancer and/or higher risk of developing cancer earlier in life. Common breeds predisposed to cancer are Labrador Retriever, French Bulldog, German Shepard, Golden Retriever, Beagle, Boxer, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Bernese Mountain Dog, Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Great Danes.

As a screening test, an MCED test doesn’t diagnose cancer, but a positive finding suggests looking for the disease during the early stages when it may be more treatable.

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