Estimating canine cancer incidence: findings from a population-based tumour registry in northwestern Italy

BMC Vet Res. 2017 Jun 28;13(1):203. doi: 10.1186/s12917-017-1126-0.


Background: Canine cancer registry data can be put to good use in epidemiological studies. Quantitative comparison of tumour types may reveal unusual cancer frequencies, providing directions for research and generation of hypotheses of cancer causation in a specific area, and suggest leads for identifying risk factors. Here we report canine cancer incidence rates calculated from a population-based registry in an area without any known specific environmental hazard.

Results: In its 90 months of operation from 2001 to 2008 (the observation period in this study), the population-based Piedmont Canine Cancer Registry collected data on 1175 tumours confirmed by histopathological diagnosis. The incidence rate was 804 per 100,000 dog-years for malignant tumours and 897 per 100,000 dog-years for benign tumours. Higher rates for all cancers were observed in purebred dogs, particularly in Yorkshire terrier and Boxer. The most prevalent malignant neoplasms were cutaneous mastocytoma and hemangiopericytoma, and mammary gland complex carcinoma and simplex carcinoma.

Conclusions: The Piedmont canine cancer registry is one of few of its kind whose operations have been consistently supported by long-term public funding. The registry-based cancer incidence rates were estimated with particular attention to the validity of data collection, thus minimizing the potential for bias. The findings on cancer incidence rates may provide a reliable reference for comparison studies. Researches conducted on dogs, used as sentinels for community exposure to environmental carcinogens, can be useful to detect excess risks in the incidence of malignant tumours in the human population.

Keywords: Cancer epidemiology; Dog; Incidence; Population-based cancer registry; Sentinel animal; Tumours.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Dog Diseases / pathology
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Incidence
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / veterinary*
  • Registries*
  • Risk Factors