Environmental Link to Canine Cancers

Last Modified: May 28, 2006


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

My 52-year-old husband was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last year. Now, our 14-year-old Labrador retriever likely has some bone marrow cancer. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I want to be as sure as possible. Before we decide against a bone marrow biopsy (BMBx) for the dog, I want to make sure [that] there is no connection between canine and human blood cancers, and that there would be no clinical usefulness for the humans in the family to know for certain what the dog has. Obviously, I think of potent environmental factors that may have triggered the problem in both. Are you aware of any research to suspect that?


Lili Duda, VMD, Section Editor of the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Menu, responds:

While there are few epidemiological studies linking environmental factors to human cancers, there are even fewer studies linking canine cancers to these factors. There is a possible weak link between certain pesticides and lymphoma in dogs, but it's not a "proven" association. Cancer clusters are notoriously difficult to investigate, even with many cases within a small geographical area. It's also important to keep in mind that 50% of dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer, and 50% of these will die as a result of their cancer, so it's not that unusual of an occurrence. Lymphoma is a relatively common cancer in dogs, but multiple myeloma is uncommon in both canines and humans.