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New Research Shows a Genetic Cause of Lymphoma in Dogs

Reviewed by Missy Beall, DVM, PhD on Friday, October 16, 2015
Posted November 16, 2015 in Dog Diseases & Conditions A-Z

As a veterinarian with over 40 years of experience, I have diagnosed many cases of malignant disease (cancers) in dogs and cats. Veterinarians have long recognized breed predispositions of some cancers such as lymphosarcoma. We now have evidence of a genetic role in the development of this cancer.

What is lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a malignant disease of the various lymphatic tissues. Until recently, the cause remained poorly understood but advanced genetic research is opening many doors.

[Learn more about lymphoma here.]

Adorable brindle BoxerHow common is lymphoma in dogs?
Canine lymphoma or lymphoma-sarcoma is one of the most common cancers in dogs, according to caninecancer.com. Dogs spontaneously develop lymphoma, and the predisposition of certain breeds indicates genetic risk factors. According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, Boxers, Bull Mastiffs, Basset Hounds, Saint Bernards, Scottish Terriers, Airedales and Bull Dogs appear to be at increased risk for this disease (Broad Institute adds Cocker Spaniel, Golden Retriever and Irish Wolfhound), but lymphoma can affect any dog, of any breed, at any age.

New research looks at role of genetics in lymphoma
Recent advances have improved our understanding of the genetic basis of cancer. Using a technique for DNA sequencing of lymphomas from three dog breeds (Boxer, Cocker Spaniel and Golden Retriever), researchers from ten U.S. and international institutions of veterinary and human medicine studied the genetic mutations in B- and T-cell lymphomas from these breeds. They showed mutation patterns indicative of a genetic cause for the disease. Their results were published Sept. 16 in Genome Research.

This new evidence of genetic causes may have an invaluable impact on our ability to prevent the disease through selective breeding of dogs and genetic counseling of people.

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Mike has more than 35 years of experience in companion animal veterinary practice and is a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2013.