Horizons in Veterinary Precision Oncology: Fundamentals of Cancer Genomics and Applications of Liquid Biopsy for the Detection, Characterization, and Management of Cancer in Dogs

Front Vet Sci. 2021 Mar 23;8:664718. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2021.664718. eCollection 2021.


Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs, in part because many cases are identified at an advanced stage when clinical signs have developed, and prognosis is poor. Increased understanding of cancer as a disease of the genome has led to the introduction of liquid biopsy testing, allowing for detection of genomic alterations in cell-free DNA fragments in blood to facilitate earlier detection, characterization, and management of cancer through non-invasive means. Recent discoveries in the areas of genomics and oncology have provided a deeper understanding of the molecular origins and evolution of cancer, and of the "one health" similarities between humans and dogs that underlie the field of comparative oncology. These discoveries, combined with technological advances in DNA profiling, are shifting the paradigm for cancer diagnosis toward earlier detection with the goal of improving outcomes. Liquid biopsy testing has already revolutionized the way cancer is managed in human medicine - and it is poised to make a similar impact in veterinary medicine. Multiple clinical use cases for liquid biopsy are emerging, including screening, aid in diagnosis, targeted treatment selection, treatment response monitoring, minimal residual disease detection, and recurrence monitoring. This review article highlights key scientific advances in genomics and their relevance for veterinary oncology, with the goal of providing a foundational introduction to this important topic for veterinarians. As these technologies migrate from human medicine into veterinary medicine, improved awareness and understanding will facilitate their rapid adoption, for the benefit of veterinary patients.

Keywords: cancer; cell-free DNA; cfDNA; circulating tumor DNA; dog; genomic; liquid biopsy; one health.

Publication types

  • Review