Mast cell tumors (MCT) in dogs are very common, and they are the most common form of cancer for the Boxer breed. About 1 in 4 boxer dogs diagnosed with cancer has MCTs.
What are mast cell tumours?
MCTs are the most common skin tumours in dogs. They are a cancer of the immune system. MCTs can develop in any area of the body. They will typically appear on the skin as a lump or mass, they vary in size considerably.
Treatment usually involves surgically removing the entire tumour – if possible. It’s also important to remove a wide margin or large area of healthy tissue around the perimeter of the tumor. This is to make sure the cancer is completely removed. MCTs have 3 grades, with grade 1 being the least aggressive form of cancer.
No one fully understands what causes cancer. MCTs are very common in dogs, yet they occur far less frequently in cats and very rarely in human beings. More research is needed to find out what causes MCTs and to develop better tools for diagnosis and treatment.
How Adopt A Boxer can help
Through our involvement with the boxer breed, we have witnessed at first hand the devastating effects of MCTs on affected dogs and on their distraught caregivers. As one of the primary aims of our charity is to improve and maintain welfare standards for boxer dogs, we considered it appropriate to support research in this area.
We contacted the Animal Health Trust (AHT), asked about their research into boxer MCTs and cancer, and how we may be able to help. They told us about a research study started in 2010 to ‘identify Genetic Risk Factors for Mast Cell Tumours in Boxers’. It is hoped that this study will enable the development of a DNA test to identify boxers who are likely to develop mast cell tumours.
Earlier this year the oncology research group at AHT decided to attempt a new approach. The team aims to decode the entire DNA of both affected and unaffected boxers in order to establish the differences between the two. As with all research, funding is a challenge: it costs £2,000 to decode the DNA of one dog. This is why AHT need support to carry out this research.
Our Boxer Cancer Appeal
We have set up a Boxer Cancer Appeal to raise funds for this research. All the money raised by this appeal will be donated to the Animal Health Trust. There are several ways you can support this appeal.
- You can donate: By text:
- enter MAST07
- followed by £5 or £10
- send the text to 70070
All money donated to this appeal including gift aid goes to the Animal Health Trust.
You can help with the research
The Animal Health Trust need samples from:
- boxers (of all ages) that have, or have had, a mast cell tumour
- older boxers (aged 10+) that have never had any type of cancer (this is proving particularly difficult). If your boxer falls within this group, then providing a sample could be vital to the progress of the study.
The Boxers must be purebred, and AHT request that (if at all possible) a pedigree is provided with a submitted sample.
It’s easy to take a sample: AHT provide free cheek swab kits that collect cells from inside the dog’s mouth. To get a kit, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Animal Health Trust on 01638 751000, ext. 1214.
We would be hugely grateful if you could support our Boxer Cancer Appeal – either by donating or by submitting a sample from your boxer.
For more information on our appeal please contact us 01324 430047 or by email at email@example.com. Visit the Animal Health Trust website for information on the charity and their work to help animals across the UK.
We are interested in case studies from boxers and their owners regarding their experiences of MCTs and cancers. Have a read of Missy’s Case Study to find out how it affected her.