Canine osteosarcoma: a naturally occurring disease to inform pediatric oncology

ILAR J. 2014;55(1):69-85. doi: 10.1093/ilar/ilu009.


Osteosarcoma (OSA) is the most common form of malignant bone cancer in children and dogs, although the disease occurs in dogs approximately 10 times more frequently than in people. Multidrug chemotherapy and aggressive surgical techniques have improved survival; however, new therapies for OSA are critical, as little improvement in survival times has been achieved in either dogs or people over the past 15 years, even with significant efforts directed at the incorporation of novel therapeutic approaches. Both clinical and molecular evidence suggests that human and canine OSA share many key features, including tumor location, presence of microscopic metastatic disease at diagnosis, development of chemotherapy-resistant metastases, and altered expression/activation of several proteins (e.g. Met, ezrin, phosphatase and tensin homolog, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3), and p53 mutations, among others. Additionally, canine and pediatric OSA exhibit overlapping transcriptional profiles and shared DNA copy number aberrations, supporting the notion that these diseases are similar at the molecular level. This review will discuss the similarities between pediatric and canine OSA with regard to histology, biologic behavior, and molecular genetic alterations that indicate canine OSA is a relevant, spontaneous, large animal model of the pediatric disease and outline how the study of naturally occurring OSA in dogs will offer additional insights into the biology and future treatment of this disease in both children and dogs.

Keywords: comparative oncology; dog; naturally occurring cancer models; osteosarcoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Bone Neoplasms / genetics
  • Bone Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Bone Neoplasms / therapy
  • Bone Neoplasms / veterinary*
  • Child
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Dog Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Dog Diseases / genetics*
  • Dog Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Dog Diseases / therapy
  • Dogs
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Osteosarcoma / epidemiology
  • Osteosarcoma / genetics
  • Osteosarcoma / physiopathology
  • Osteosarcoma / therapy
  • Osteosarcoma / veterinary*
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Risk Factors