Cancer incidence in pet dogs: Findings of the animal tumor registry of Genoa, Italy

Domenico Franco Merlo, L. Rossi, C. Pellegrino, M. Ceppi, U. Cardellino, C. Capurro, A. Ratto, P. L. Sambucco, V. Sestito, G. Tanara, V. Bocchini

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Background: The occurrence of spontaneous tumors in pet animals has been estimated in a few European and North American veterinary cancer registries with dissimilar methodologies and variable reference populations. Objectives: The Animal Tumor Registry (ATR) of Genoa, Italy, was established in 1985 with the aim of estimating the occurrence of spontaneous tumors in dogs. Methods: Six thousand seven hundred and forty-three tumor biopsy specimens were received from local veterinarians in the Municipality of Genoa between 1985 and 2002. Three thousand and three hundred and three (48.9%) biopsy specimen samples were diagnosed as cancer and were coded according to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD-9). Results: Mammary cancer was the most frequently diagnosed cancer in female dogs, accounting for 70% of all cancer cases. Incidence of all cancers was 99.3 per 100,000 dog-years (95% CI: 93.6-105.1) in male dogs and 272.1 (95% CI: 260.7-283.6) in female dogs. The highest incidence rates were detected for mammary cancer (IR = 191.8, 95% CI: 182.2-201.4) and for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (IR = 22.9, 95% CI: 19.7-26.5) in bitches and for non-Hodgkin's Iymphoma (IR = 19.9, 95% CI: 17.4-22.7) and skin cancer (IR = 19.1, 95% CI: 16.6-21.8) in male dogs. All cancer IR increased with age ranging between 23.7 (95% CI: 18.4-30.1) and 763.2 (95% CI: 700.4-830.1) in bitches and between 16.5 (95% CI: 12.8-21.1) and 237.6 (95% CI: 209.1-269.0) in male dogs aged 9-11 years. Conclusion: This study summarizes the work done by the ATR of Genoa, Italy, between 1985 and 2002. All cancer incidence was 3 times higher in female than in male dogs, a difference explained by the high rate of mammary cancer observed in bitches. Because a biopsy specimen was required to make a cancer diagnosis, cancer rates for internal organs cancers, such as respiratory and digestive tract cancers may have been underestimated in the study population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)976-984
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008


  • Age
  • Breed
  • Cancer registry
  • Canine incidence rates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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