What is the Stomach Cancer Study?

Dr. Elaine Ostrander at the National Human Genome Research Institute Dog Genome Project has taken on the study to determine the cause of stomach cancer in breeds that have an increased risk. The study was initiated by Dr. Elizabeth McNiel who has turned over the study to Dr. Ostrander.


In general, stomach cancer is rare in dogs. Veterinary databases indicate that about 0.1% of dogs (1 in 1000) received this diagnosis. However, certain breeds are diagnosed with stomach cancer much more frequently. Chow Chows have between 10-20 times the risk of stomach cancer compared to other breeds and we have been studying this cancer in Chows for a number of years with the goal of identifying the gene(s) that lead to stomach cancer predisposition. Now we are also investigating stomach cancer in other breeds that demonstrate an increased risk 1) based on data from the Veterinary Medicine Database or 2) in which we have identified a familial pattern of occurrence. One of these breeds is the Belgian Tervuren. Belgian Tervurens have 8 times the risk for stomach cancer compared to other dogs. 

  pdfBelgian Sheepdog and Tervuren Gastric Cancer Study Update 2016.pdf

Tervuren LogoLrgWhat are the Signs of Stomach Cancer?

The signs of stomach cancer can be very vague and subtle. Any of the following could indicate stomach cancer:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloat
  • Dark tarry stool
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Loss of energy

NOTE: Not all dogs have all the signs!

How Can I Help Fight Stomach Cancer?

We are interested in collecting blood samples and pedigrees from Belgian Tervuren that either:

Have STOMACH CANCER: - The dog is showing signs of stomach cancer or has been diagnosed with stomach cancer.


Have NO EVIDENCE OF STOMACH CANCER:- The dog has no signs of stomach cancer and is at least 8 years old.


If you would like to participate or need more information, please contact us:

Ostrander Lab        
Phone: (301) 451-9390
Fax: (301) 594-0023
Email: dog_genome@mail.nih.gov 
Stomach Cancer Project Blood Draw Instructions89.51 KB

In addition to blood samples, tissue samples of the cancer are also valuable.  The samples would need to be fresh frozen and sent to the Ostrander lab or placed immediately in RNAlater—a solution that the Ostrander lab can provide—and then shipped to the lab.  Please contact the Ostrander lab directly if you think that you could provide a tissue sample.

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