New Research Shows a Genetic Cause of Lymphoma in Dogs

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 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.

What can be gained from the new lymphoma research?
The Canine Health Foundation reports that, according to Jessica Alfoldi, PhD, a senior author of the study,  the results are beneficial not only to dogs but also to human companions who share the disease.

Breakthroughs in canine diseases such as this can have great impact on the development of new diagnostic and treatment methods in human medicine.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Reviewed on: 
Friday, October 16, 2015