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Study finds certain canine breeds should be screened for cancer at young ages

dvm360dvm360 March 2023
Volume 54
Issue 3
Pages: 14

Investigators made an evidence-based recommendation to start screening for cancer in canines based on when dogs tend to develop the disease

A newly published study supports a general recommendation to start screening all dogs for cancer at the age of 7 years and starting as early as age 4 years for certain breeds to increase the chance of early detection and treatment.1,2 Funded by PetDx, a liquid biopsy company for pets, the study was published today in PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed journal from the Public Library of Science.1

The authors—who are all employed by PetDx—examined data from more than 3000 dogs with cancer to determine the typical age at which dogs of various breeds and weights developed the disease.1,2 They noted in the publication that cancer is the leading cause of death in adult dogs. The lifetime risk of cancer in canines as well as mortality from the disease varies significantly by breed.2 

“Veterinarians already know that cancer risk is influenced heavily by age and breed, and that dogs of certain breeds or sizes are at risk of developing cancer earlier in life than others,” said Andi Flory, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology), chief medical officer for PetDx, in an organizational release.1 “Importantly, this study lays the foundation for an evidence-based recommendation for when to start cancer screening for individual dogs based on their breed or weight.”

The results of the study are in line with the company’s recommendations for when to begin annual screening with the multi-cancer early detection (MCED) liquid biopsy test for dogs (OncoK9; PetDx). This test was earlier shown to detect 30 different types of canine cancer with a simple blood draw using next-generation sequencing (NGS) in the CANcer Detection in Dogs (CANDiD) study, which was the largest clinical validation study ever performed in veterinary cancer diagnostics, according to PetDx.3 The findings of this new study also underpin the company’s online calculator that allows users to easily find out the recommended age to start screening any dog for cancer (OncoK9 Cancer SAFE).1

“Until recently, cancer screening options in dogs were limited,” said Jill Rafalko, MS, CGC, lead study author and director of scientific communications for PetDx, said in the release.1 “With the widespread availability of next-generation sequencing-based liquid biopsy testing, the question is shifting from how to screen dogs for cancer to when to screen dogs for cancer. Our study helps to answer that question.”


  1. Dogs should be screened for cancer beginning at age 7, as early as age 4 for certain breeds, PetDx study shows. News release. PetDx. February 1, 2023. Accessed February 1, 2023. https://petdx.com/press-release/2023-02-01-press-release/
  2. Rafalko JM, Kruglyak KM, McCleary Wheeler AL, et al. Age at cancer diagnosis by breed, weight, sex, and cancer type in a cohort of more than 3,000 dogs: Determining the optimal age to initiate cancer screening in canine patients. PLoS ONE. 2023;18(2): e0280795. https://doi.org/10.1371/ journal.pone.0280795
  3. PetDx announces publication of landmark clinical validation study for OncoK9®, its pioneering multi-cancer early detection test for dogs using next-generation sequencing. News release. April 26, 2022. Accessed February 1, 2023. https://petdx.com/press-release/2022-04-26-press-release/
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