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A New Test for Detecting Canine Cancer Shows Promise

One male and two female veterinarians checking on a dog
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It’s estimated that about 50 percent of dogs over the age of 10 will contract cancer at some point in their lives [1]. 

But thanks to a new dog cancer test that is about to hit the market, pet owners may be able to find out if their pup has early signs of cancer faster than traditional testing. 

First of Its Kind

This new test – developed by researchers in the College of Engineering, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, analyzes a dog’s urine to look for cancer markers. 

It is a noninvasive, rapid test that is the first of its kind. At the moment, veterinarians can test for cancer in dogs through three different genomic blood tests that look for tumor or cancer proteins.

“There are no simple, rapid (15 minutes), economical (less than $200) urine-based tests for detection of cancer in dogs,” says John Robertson, a research professor in the department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics at Virginia Tech. 

This new test, he says, uses a technology called Raman Molecular Urinalysis (RMU). RMU analyzes changes in the composition of urine associated with cancer in dogs. It has been successful at identifying molecular markers for lymphoma, bladder cancer (urothelial carcinoma), osteosarcoma, and mast cell tumors.  

The test can be done with just a tablespoon-size sample of urine. 

Faster, Cheaper, and More Convenient

This technology is reportedly 90 percent accurate. This is compared to the 60 percent accuracy of cancer-screening blood tests, which are expensive, performed in a lab, and require pet owners to have to wait days for results. 

The urine test is not only a cost-effective screening but can also let owners know if their dog has the markers of cancer in a matter of minutes. And since this rapid test is easy to do, it may even be able to eventually be performed at home.

The team behind the test says their plan is to see how early they can detect cancer in dogs – hopefully before dogs exhibit clinical signs indicating established and/or advanced disease. They also want to use the testing technology to monitor how well cancer treatment is working. 

“We are currently seeking funding to expand our testing capacity in Blacksburg, Virginia and for a more focused study of lymphoma in 300 dogs, with particular attention to dog breeds that have an increased risk of cancer,” adds Robinson. These breeds include Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, certain Terrier breeds, and more. 

Expanded Testing Capability for Cats and Humans

The technology in this new dog cancer test doesn’t just apply to canines. “We have validated this technology for dogs and humans with bladder cancer,” says Robertson. “Validation equals publication of results in a peer-reviewed journal.” 

The team also plans to expand their research for other types of animals as well. “As soon as we can scale the test for cats, do an appropriate study (at least 50 healthy cats and 50 with cancer) and publish the results in a respected peer-reviewed journal, we will make it available,” he adds. 

The test and technology are undergoing clinical trials and additional studies before it becomes available to veterinarians, breeders, and the general population of pet owners. 

More information about this technology and its progress can be found at https://rametrixtech.com.


  1. https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/cancer-pets