The bad news?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1 in 4 dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime, and nearly 50% of dogs 10 years or older will develop some form of cancer.
The good news?
IDEXX Nu. Q Canine Cancer Screen is now available for our patients!
This is a blood test our doctors can utilize in our canine patients to detect potential presence of cancer. Our team takes a small blood sample from your pup and sends it into our laboratory, IDEXX. The lab looks at the blood sample for any genetic material that has been shed by nucleosomes, or cancer cells. Based on the level of cancer cells detected within the blood sample, if any, a risk-factor gauge is then determined to suggest if your dog could have cancer present somewhere in the body, or the likelihood of developing it.
Results of the cancer screen are reported by way of risk-level: low, intermediate, or high. Dogs with high-risk results tells our doctors there is likely cancer within the body. Our recommendation to you will then be to put our detective hats on via further diagnostic tools and find it! Intermediate-risk results tells our doctors to recommend any diagnostic tools we have available to "be on the lookout" for cancer presence in the coming months or years. Canines with low-risk results can simply plan to re-scan the next year.
Results of the Nu. Q Cancer Screen are not a 100% indicator that your dog either has cancer or does not/will not develop cancer, but rather a roadmap for our team. High or intermediate results allow our doctors to begin providing you, as a dog parent, all of the recommendations for your pup, the rest of their lives. If your dog comes back with a high-risk result, doctor will most likely recommend using various diagnostic tools to "stage" or determine the extent of which a cancer has developed or grown, in your dog. This may involve xray(s) and/or ultrasound. If your dog comes back with an intermediate-risk result, doctor may recommend your dog come back in a month for further examination and a follow-up, and potentially administering another Nu. Q. The goal at this point will be to do what we can to stay "on the lookout" for potential cancer or various other health conditions that may develop.
Our goal is always to best educate you on how we can make help make sure your dog can live their longest, happiest, healthiest life and oftentimes the way to do this is by early detection. Early detection leads to the best outcome for your dog, by allowing our doctors to get ahead of any potential cancer before it can spread in the body. Cancer in dogs can be successfully treated!
The Nu. Q being adding to our toolbox, helps us to do that!
Another important note is the Nu. Q is meant for screening systemic cancers, meaning cancers that shed cells that will spread throughout the body. Cancers such as Lymphoma, Hemangiosarcoma, and Histiocytic sarcoma, are all types of cancers that have a 54% or higher detection rate on the Nu. Q. Malignant melanomas have a 43% detection rate. Localized cancers, meaning they live in the tissue or bone, such as a Mast Cell Tumor, Osteosarcoma (bone tumor), or soft tissue sarcomas are harder to detect with this test, due to the fact that they don't release those nucleosomes out into the bloodstream to be recognized.
What are the exclusions?
- Fasting prior to sample
- In order for accurate results on the cancer screen, your dog must have been fasted 4-6 hours minimum, prior to taking the blood sample.
- Lack of proper fasting could lead to a false positive, and we don't want to be chasing down cancer that doesn't exist!
- Dogs with systemic infections
- If your dog has a high-grade fever, recent trauma, etc., again a false positive could result. Likely, conditions such as a skin infection would not result in a false positive.
- Other conditions such as osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism, or renal disease, do not effect the accuracy of this test, due to their localized nature, meaning they are non-systemic/spread throughout the body.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The average age of canine cancer diagnosis is 8.8 years old.
- Purebred dogs are 1.9x as likely to develop cancer as mixed breed dogs. (We recommend screening your purebred dog with the Nu. Q as early as 4 years old and annually).
- 24% of all canine cancers are Lymphosarcoma--(one of the cancers that has the highest rate of detection with the Nu. Q!)
- The specificity of the Nu. Q is ~97%, making it only resulting in false positives less than 3% of the time.
Ask your veterinarian if adding the Nu. Q Cancer Screen on to your dog's next annual blood panel is right for them!
Purebred dogs should be screened starting at 4 years of age and annually.
Mixed-breed dogs should be screened starting at 7 years of age and annually.
More questions about the Nu. Q Canine Cancer Screen?
Give our office a call and send us an email!