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Today, I am very excited to talk to you about this new development, which is an early way to detect cancer in dogs non-invasively. And a huge kudos to the San Diego team that developed it right here with one of our local oncologists, veterinarian, Dr. Andi Flory. She and a team on the human side were able to bring this out in a very short period of time with some really smart people. And I’m really, really excited for them and what they’ve been able to accomplish.

So what is this test? This is a test through your pet’s blood to detect cancer. Cancer is a disease of the DNA. It’s a disease of your genome. You get these little mutations in your DNA. And while our body has ways of dealing with that, it doesn’t get it all the time. And that’s how cancer develops. These cancer cells continue to grow and what they do is they actually release little tiny fragments of their DNA into the bloodstream called cell-free DNA. This test finds those tiny fragments of DNA, amplifies it, and lets us know that there’s cancer in the bloodstream. You might have even experienced this yourself. If you or your significant other were pregnant and you had Non-invasive prenatal blood testing done, what they’re finding is little tiny fragments of the fetus DNA and they can tell you, is it a boy or a girl? Are there any genetic abnormalities that have happened? So this is something that’s actually really commonly done on the human side and they’re able to take that same technology and apply it to animal cancer, which is just amazing. So very, very excited about it.

So how are we going to use this? There’s a couple different ways we’re going to use this test now that we have it. One is just as an annual screening. We’ve been doing annual cancer screening for the past eight years. This is one of the programs that we piloted here as a way to find cancer early in dogs. We do an annual abdominal ultrasound and chest x-rays. And we can use this new testing in conjunction with those tests because sometimes, on the ultrasound or the x-rays, there’ll be a little spot and we won’t really know what to make of that. Is that cancer? Is it not? We just need to follow up. So we can use this test in conjunction to see if that spot is a concern. Or is cancer just not visible on x-ray or ultrasound? This test can find these really small fragments of DNA that can give us that answer at the earliest stages. We can also use it as a screening for dogs that are more prone to cancer. We know there are a lot of dogs that are prone to cancer. There’s the golden retrievers, there’s the labradors, there’s the rottweilers, the boxers. Starting to use this test on an annual basis as these breeds hit those later stages in their life to try to detect it at their earliest stages can be really, really helpful. We can also use this to follow up with treatment. Say your dog has gone through cancer treatment. And we need to know, do we need to stop treatment? Do we need to keep going? You can use this test to follow up to see, are there still tiny fragments of cancer in the bloodstream? And if there are, we’re going to continue treatment moving forward. So, a lot of different ways we can use this test to try to either direct treatment or find cancer at the earliest stages.

Overall, I’m really excited about this. This is something that is we’ve, I’ve hoped it was going to be here, but I didn’t think it was going to be here for 10-15 years. And it’s here now. And this is what Coastal Animal Hospital is all about. You know, we’re always at the forefront of trying to find what is new, what is great. So many things that come out are new and great are just snake oil. Everybody claims to cure the world with XYZ product. And rarely does it actually work out. And so that’s what we’re working behind the scenes to see what’s real and what isn’t. This is real. And we’re so excited to be able to bring this, because this is going to help us detect cancer early in our dogs and where we actually have more of a chance to do something about it. Because so many times, dogs and cats, they wait until the end. They’re trying to hide their disease until it’s almost too late. Unfortunately, this test is not available for cats. It’s only specific for dogs. Hopefully down the road, they’ll have that for cats as well. But this is the first step. If you have any questions about this at all, please give us a call. Let us know. We can tell you how to get this test done. I’m Dr. Brian Evans, here at Coastal Animal Hospital. Till next time.