Innovative diagnostics tool and therapies signal veterinary oncology advancement


Sue Ettinger, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology), discussed recent developments in canine cancer treatment during a session at the 2022 Fetch dvm360® Conference in San Diego.

This content is sponsored by Volition.

Innovation is advancing how cancer in pets is detected and how the disease is treated. In a session at the 2022 Fetch dvm360® Conference in San Diego, California, Sue Ettinger, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)—well known as Dr Sue Cancer Vet, provided a review of recent advancements in diagnostics and therapies for managing cancer in companion animals.1

According to the Veterinary Cancer Society, 1 in 4 dogs will be diagnosed with cancer, and oncologic disease is the leading cause of death in pets who are past middle age.2 In her talk, Ettinger discussed recent innovations such as the NuQ Vet Cancer Screening Test by Volition, as well as drug treatments, including tigilanol tiglate injectable therapy (Stelfonta; Virbac) for canine mast cell tumors, and verdinexor (Laverdia-CA1; Dechra), an oral antineoplastic therapy for lymphoma in dogs, as advancements in veterinary oncology.1

NuQ Vet Cancer Screening Test

A blood test that serves as an alternative to advanced imaging, biopsies, and other traditional cancer screening methods, the NuQ Vet Cancer Screening Test requires a 4-hour fast. “One of my passions is early cancer detections and that’s why I became interested in this product,” she told the audience.1

Ettinger noted that the NuQ Vet test is more affordable than some other forms of cancer screening for veterinary patients and is proving useful as a tool for discovering lymphomas and hemangiosarcoma. These are some of the most common forms of canine cancer, according to the Veterinary Cancer Society.2

The NuQ Vet test relies on DNA from cancer cells. Nucleosomes that have been released into the blood from these cells are measured. Dogs without cancer will have very low nucleosome levels, according to Ettinger.1 “Dogs with certain cancers—usually these rapidly dividing cancers like lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma—they’ll have high levels of nucleosomes and that’s what the test looks at,” she said.

In studies conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University, the NuQ Vet test demonstrated the ability to detect more than 77% of lymphomas and 82% of hemangiosarcoma, both at 97% specificity for both cancer types.1,3,4 “You’re not going to have a lot of false-positives,” Ettinger noted of the studies.

Tigilanol tiglate (Stelfonta: Virbac)

A high-efficacy, fast-acting single injection, this therapy is indicated for mast cell tumor treatment in dogs. It works to induce tumor cell death quickly by directly destroying its blood supply, causing necrosis. According to Ettinger, the destroyed tumor falls off the patient.1

“The more that I use it, the more that I like it,” she told the audience. “It is not chemotherapy. It comes from the blushwood plant [in Australia].”

Investigators have found that 75% of mast cell tumors treated with tigilanol tiglate needed only a single treatment to achieve resolution by 28 days. Furthermore, 93% of the dogs studied had no recurrence by 84 days, and 89% of dogs in the initial study were disease-free at 12 months post-treatment.5 Additionally, 88% of dogs demonstrated a complete response with 1 or 2 injections, and the drug is generally well tolerated.

Tigilanol tiglate also promotes healing at the wound site and provides a good cosmetic outcome, according to Ettinger. “These [wound sites] will heal on their own, usually within 4-6 weeks,” she added.1

Verdinexor (Laverdia-CA1; Dechra)

An oral, antineoplastic therapy, verdinexor was conditionally approved by the FDA, in January 2021, for lymphoma treatment in dogs. According to Dechra, it is the first small-molecule selective inhibitor of nuclear export drug specifically designed for veterinary use.6

Verdinexor is used to control the growth and inhibit the spread of cancer in dogs by preventing certain proteins from leaving the nucleus of cancerous cells. “It can keep some of these dogs stable,” said Ettinger.

A study of the drug administered in 58 dogs with naïve or progressive B-cell and T-cell lymphoma demonstrated an objective response rate (ORR) of 37%. In dogs with T-cell lymphoma, the ORR was 71%, The study demonstrated that verdinexor was well-tolerated in clinical studies with grade 1-2 anorexia reported as the most common adverse effect.7

Prescribed by veterinarians, verdinexor is administered twice per week and can be administered at home. “It’s an option for owners who don’t want to do injectable chemotherapy and are looking for a less intense option, financially, and the appointment rechecks,” said Ettinger.


Ettinger’s talk, which includes case studies with each product, was sponsored by Volition, and she shared with the audience her role as a speaker and consultant for the company. “As I always say, I never work with any companies that I don’t believe in their products and what they’re doing,” she added.1


  1. Ettinger S. What’s new in cancer 2022. Presented at: Fetch dvm360® Conference; San Diego, California. December 2-4, 2022.
  2. Frequently asked questions. Veterinary Cancer Society. Accessed December 12, 2022.
  3. Dolan, Miller T, Jarvis J, et al. Characterizing circulating nucleosomes in the plasma of dogs with lymphoma. BMC Vet Res. 2021;17:276
  4. Wilson-Robles, Miller T, Jarvis J, et al. Characterizing circulating nucleosomes in the plasma of dogs with hemangiosarcoma. BMC Vet Res. 2021;17:231
  5. Randomized controlled clinical study evaluating the efficacy and safety of intratumoral treatment of canine mast cell tumors with tigilanol tiglate. J Vet Intern Med. 2021;35(1):415-429. doi:10.1111/jvim.15806.
  6. Dechra acquires the rights to Laverdia-CA1 (verdinexor tablets). News release. Dechra. January 13, 2022. Accessed December 12, 2022.
  7. Sadowski AR, Gardner HL, Borgatti A, et all. Phase II study of the oral selective inhibitor of nuclear export (SINE) KPT-335 (verdinexor) in dogs with lymphoma. BMC Vet Res. 2018;14(1):250. Doi:10.1186/s12917-018-1587-9
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