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Non-Invasive Detection and Quantification of Circulating Tumour Cells in Dogs with Appendicular Osteosarcoma

** Please note this study is closed/completed and no longer recruiting patients ** 

Wright, T., Brisson, B. A., Wood, G. A., Oblak, M., Mutsaers, A. J., Sabine, V., Skowronski, K., Belanger, C., Tiessen, A., & Bienzle, D. (2019). Flow Cytometric Detection of Circulating Osteosarcoma Cells in Dogs. Cytometry. Part A : the journal of the International Society for Analytical Cytology95(9), 997–1007.


To establish a non-invasive method for detecting and quantifying circulating osteosarcoma tumour cells in dogs with diagnosed osteosarcoma undergoing treatment by examining peripheral blood samples using flow cytometry.

Study Summary:

Osteosarcoma is a highly malignant cancer that rapidly spreads to other body locations, such as the lungs and other bones resulting in patient death.

Despite advanced imaging, our ability to identify and stage early metastatic disease remains poor. Improved methods for early detection of  early metastasis could allow for accurate monitoring of disease progression, evaluating response to treatment and improved estimation of overall prognosis. Recent research efforts in humans have been focused on the development of sensitive, accurate, minimally-invasive, and cost-effective tests that allow detection of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in peripheral blood. Circulating tumour cells shed from primary tumour lesions have the potential to generate distant metastases. CTCs are considered rare in peripheral circulation, but detection and measurement of CTCs in human cancer patients has been shown to correlate with disease malignancy and stage.

Measurement of CTCs is performed on peripheral blood, collected in a routine and non-invasive manner. 1-3 ml of blood will be collected. 

Flow cytometry has been established as a method for identifying CTCs in human patients with various other forms of cancer. A protocol has yet to be established in veterinary or human patients specifically for osteosarcoma.

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Diagnosis of appendicular osteosarcoma (radiological diagnosis is acceptable)
  • Dogs > 20kg
  • Dog that is amenable to blood collection
  • Dogs at any stage of disease progression; patients with metastases at time of enrollment also included
  • No significant co-morbid illness (including renal/hepatic failure, other diagnosed neoplasia, heart failure/clinical coagulopathy) or contraindications to blood draw.

Samples required:

  • Blood (upon diagnosis, immediately post treatment (amputation/radiation/HIFU) and at the time of otherwise scheduled recheck examinations for chemotherapy, and/or staging and monitoring.
  • Dogs will not be required to return specifically for this study; blood will be collected at the time of otherwise scheduled Oncology or Surgical Oncology examinations.


Vicky Sabine (PhD), Clinical Research Coordinator, OVC
Email:; Work Cell #: 226-218-0338

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