Monday, June 10, 2013

Moving Toward a Cancer Breakthrough

I have long believed that golden retrievers inherit a genetic tendency toward the most common cancers that strike our breed--hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, mast-cell tumors and osteosarcoma. This belief has guided my breeding decisions for over a decade. Now some ground-breaking research is providing support for my efforts!

Two sets of researchers are making tremendous progress in helping us understand why so many goldens develop these serious, often untreatable cancers

  1. Hemangiosarcoma and Lymphosarcoma. Research by Drs. Jaime Modiano and Kersten Linblad-Toh indicate that inherited genetic risk factors account for as much as 50% of the risk for hemangiosarcoma and lymphosarcoma. Their next steps are to develop DNA tests that might enable us to develop strategies for risk assessment in individual dogs, as well as the potential to manage risk across the breed as a whole. In addition, their research has clarified how these cancers work and thus may enable the development of better treatments and therapies. 
  2. Lymphosarcoma. Drs. Jeffrey Bryan, Anne Avery and Heather Wilson-Robles are tackling B cell lymphoma in Goldens. Their efforts will enable us to identify goldens at risk for developing this disease, allowing early preventative treatments with diet and/or medication. In addition, since they are clarifying lymphoma's mechanism in goldens, their research should provide more targeted and thus more effective treatments for our dogs. 

Both of these research programs are being funded by the Golden Retriever Foundation so make a donation to the GRF to contribute to them.

Until DNA tests become available for these cancers, we will continue our present strategy of breeding cancer-free older dogs that have been raised as naturally as possible on raw diets with a minimal vaccine schedule. We will rear our puppies in an environment as free from chemicals as possible, on a raw diet and with a well-designed vaccine protocol that ensures protection with as few vaccines as is possible. We will encourage owners of all goldens to play their role in cancer avoidance through the diet they feed, chemicals they use, vaccines they give and spay/neuter decisions they make. In a breed where 1 in 6 dogs will get hemangiosarcoma and 1 in 8 will get lymphosarcoma, we must do all we can to reduce our goldens risks!

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