Cancer Projects

Cancer is the number-one killer of dogs, regardless of breed. If your Ridgeback has been diagnosed with, or is suspected to have, ANY type of cancer, please contact the RRCUS Health and Genetics Cancer Research Liaison, Cynthia Willson, at or (919) 309-7676. She can help you screen your situation and get samples submitted to the right people. By contributing a sample, you will help our Ridgebacks and possibly other dogs or even humans in the future.

1. We need tissue samples and blood samples on Ridgebacks with ANY type of cancer.
(Broad Institute/MIT)

Please contact Cynthia Willson at or (919) 309-7676.

2. We need blood samples from older Ridgebacks (8 years and up) that have not had cancer. 
(Broad Institute/MIT)

Please contact Cynthia Willson at or (919) 309-7676.


3. We need tissue and blood samples from Ridgebacks with certain types of cancer.
(North Carolina State University)

For this study, the investigators want “living” tumor samples so they can literally grow tumor cells in a laboratory setting for future DNA study. These tissue samples must come from canine patients that have not yet had chemotherapy or radiation, as it is impossible for the researchers to tell the difference between the DNA mutation that caused the cancer and the mutation of DNA caused by chemo and radiation.

In order to get tissue samples, we need to know in advance that a canine patient is suspected of having cancer and that surgery is scheduled. Based on your dog’s clinical history, your vet's opinion and the investigator's, we can arrange for a small section of the tumor to be submitted for research along with a tube of blood. Yes, we understand the pathology results will not be back yet. But this is the only way to get the sample without putting the patient through a second biopsy, anesthesia, etc. (This approach is especially successful with lymphoma, where there is often high level of confidence in the diagnosis before surgery.) The investigators are acutely aware of the dog’s needs and owner’s concerns. We have to orchestrate the sampling and shipping well in advance. Special kits may have to be mailed to your vet to ensure cell viability.

Canine patients who have already undergone chemotherapy or been treated with radiation cannot be used for tissue samples. However, the researchers welcome blood samples from these dogs.

If you have a Ridgeback who is suspected of having osteosarcoma, lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, or malignant histocytosis, please contact Cynthia Willson at or (919) 309-7676 so she can help you screen your situation and get samples submitted to the right people.

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