It takes just a day for a new test method to determine whether a dog has lymph cancer. (Illustrative photo: Sigmund Krøvel-Velle, Samfoto)
It takes just a day for a new test method to determine whether a dog has lymph cancer. (Illustrative photo: Sigmund Krøvel-Velle, Samfoto)

Quicker lymphoma test for dogs

A blood sample is all that is needed in a faster and easier test to see whether dogs have lymph cancer.

Published

Lots of dogs contract cancer, especially those that reach old age. According to the Norwegian Canine Cancer Research Foundation, half of all dogs over the age of ten get the disease.  

A common cancer among dogs is lymphoma, a type that occurs in the circulatory and lymphatic system.

A few hours

Swedish scientists have now found a way of diagnosing this cancer type in dogs using a simple blood test.

“Treatment can start straight away, as the test is so fast. It just takes a few hours,” says Mikael Juremalm, a researcher at the National Veterinary Institute, Sweden (SVA), in a press release.

“Test results used to take as long as a month to complete,” he says.

The traditional method requires radioactive marking and was much harder to perform at an ordinary veterinarian clinic. It also requires the use of costly equipment.

Thymidine kinase

SVA and the Swedish firm cSens have developed the method, which is based on measuring levels of the enzyme thymidine kinase 1 (TK1) in blood samples.

TK1 is an enzyme produced by all cells in connection with DNA synthesis and cell division. Large amounts are released in the circulatory system when rapidly proliferating cells, such as cancer cells, die.

A measurement of this level in a blood sample will thus indicate the presence of tumours and prospectively how malignant they are.

Less suffering

A team of researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has conducted extensive studies into the activity of TK1in dogs’ blood.

They have known that a quantifying of the enzyme will help predict the chances of successful treatment, making it easier to decide whether it is worthwhile for a dog to be given chemotherapy. If the prognosis is poor, the best thing to do might be to put the dog down to avoid useless suffering.

“It’s really important to determine how malignant a tumour is before initiating treatment,” says Juremalm.

“Our new diagnostics can rapidly give the basis for deciding whether treatment should be started and if so, how rigorous it should be.”

A measurement of TK1 can also indicate a cancer relapse before other symptoms such has swollen lymph nodes occur. This means that a new treatment regime can be started at an earlier stage.

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Read the Norwegian version of this article at forskning.no

Translated by: Glenn Ostling

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