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Soft tissue tumors in Golden Retrievers

Last changed: 24 January 2017
Tumor sample. photo.

Morphologically, canine soft-tissue sarcomas (STSs) resemble human STSs. In humans, proper classification of STSs is considered essential to improve insight in the biology of these tumors, and to optimize diagnosis and therapy. To date, there is a paucity of data published on the significance of detailed classification of STSs in the dog.

We revised a cohort (n = 110) of proliferative lesions obtained from a study in Golden Retrievers that were considered "soft tissue sarcoma, not otherwise specified or of uncertain subtype" in order to optimize the diagnoses of these lesions. The criteria according to the veterinary WHO classification, recent veterinary literature, and the WHO classification for humans were applied.

Revision was initially based on morphologic characteristics of hematoxylin and eosin–stained histologic sections of the neoplasms. If considered necessary (n = 76), additional immunohistochemistry was applied to aid characterization.

The diagnosis of STS was confirmed in 75 neoplasms (68%). Of this group, diagnosis of a specific subtype of the STSs was possible in 58 neoplasms. Seven neoplasms had morphologic characteristics that were suggestive for sarcoma subtypes only described in the WHO classification for humans. Seventeen neoplasms remained "unclassified STSs." Thirty-one lesions (28%) were diagnosed "neoplasm, not being STS." Four lesions (4%) were considered nonneoplastic.

Because incorrect classification of a tumor could lead to inappropriate therapeutic intervention and prognostication, the results of our study clearly illustrate the importance of revision and further diagnosis of "unclassified STSs" in dogs.

Link to the publication


Boerkamp KM, Hellmén E, Willén H, Grinwis GC, Teske E, Rutteman GR. Unclassified sarcomas: a study to improve classification in a cohort of Golden Retriever dogs. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2016, 28(6):623-631.


Eva Hellmén
Professor at the Department of  Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry  (AFB); Division of Anatomy and Physiology                                                        

Telephone: 018-672128