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Those wishing to know about the inherited disease tests
The Animal Health Trust is collecting samples for projects seeking to identify the inherited genetic mutations responsible for Labrador Retrievers having an increased risk of developing mast cell tumours, melanomas, and soft-tissue sarcomas, respectively. The melanoma and soft-tissue sarcoma projects are part of the LUPA project (http://www.eurolupa.org/), a 4 year initiative involving 20 veterinary schools from 12 European countries. With the support of The Labrador Retriever Club, we have recently applied to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for funding for the mast cell tumour research project.
Mast cell tumours are the most common skin cancer in dogs, affecting mainly older dogs. Surgery and local radiotherapy are a cure for 70% of tumours, but about 30% of the tumours spread and the dogs require chemotherapy. A study in 2004 of the incidence of mast cell tumours in dogs diagnosed at the AHT between 1997 and 1999 identified a high prevalence in Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Weimaraners.
Melanomas arise from cells (containing the pigment melanin) that occur in the skin (‘cutaneous melanoma’), in the mouth (‘oral melanoma’), under toe nails (‘ungual melanoma’), and in the eye (‘ocular/uveal melanoma’). The severity of a melanoma depends upon location, with oral tumours being the most likely to spread. Labrador Retrievers are amongst several breeds that appear to have an increased risk of developing oral melanomas.
Soft-tissue sarcomas are a group of tumours derived from soft tissues (muscles, tendons, fibrous tissue, fat, blood vessels, nerves, and tissues around joints). The behaviour of the tumours depends upon their subtype and location. Dogs are usually treated by surgery which may need to be followed by local radiotherapy. There is some evidence to suggest that Labrador Retrievers have a higher incidence of
In the long term, it is hoped that the research will lead to the development of tests to identify dogs that carry the gene mutations conferring an increased risk. This information will be useful to vets as it will identify dogs who may benefit from careful monitoring for early detection of cancer, and thereby early treatment. These tests will also assist breeders to reduce the incidence of dogs affected with these cancers. The research will also increase understanding of how these tumours develop, ultimately assisting the development of new therapies.
Dr. Mike Starkey
Labrador Retriever owners can help these projects as follows:
A). If your dog has a suspected mast cell tumour, melanoma, or soft-tissue sarcoma:
or contact the AHT to request a cheek swab kit
If you have advance notice of your vet removing a biopsy, contact the AHT to ask for a special preservative (‘RNAlater’), in which to collect the small piece of tissue, to be sent to the vet
orask your vet to place a small piece of the biopsy of the suspected tumour in a freezer, and then ask the vet to contact the AHT to ask to be sent a special solvent (‘QIAzol’) in which to transport the piece of tissue
or contact the AHT to request a cheek swab kit
AHT Contact Details
Dr. Mike Starkey (Tel: 01638 555603; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
To submit a blood sample, or request a cheek swab kit and/or
When trying to breed good Labrador Retrievers it is important that the whole dog is considered. Aspects such as temperament, type, quality and working ability are all very important, and so too is soundness.
As with most breeds problems occur from time to time. HOWEVER, puppy buyers must try to understand that there are no guarantees when you buy a puppy. Conscientious breeders try to reduce the chances of inherited problems in the puppies they breed by using the health schemes available at the time.
Several health control schemes have been set up by the British Veterinary Association and the Kennel Club (BVA/KC). These can be used to help with the breeding of sound Labradors. They are:
All of these issue certificates from acknowledged veterinary experts in the fields of radiography or ophthalmology. Results are published quarterly in the Breed Record Supplement and appear on KC registration documents.
The Labrador Retriever Club strongly recommends that all breeding stock is evaluated for Hip Dysplasia & inherited eye diseases using one of the schemes. The Club also strongly recommends that prospective puppy buyers only buy from breeders that have had both parents BVA/KC hip scored and eye examined as unaffected (using the BVA/KC, EVCO or AHT eye schemes).
The LRC Puppy Register