Fido Fights Cancer – Find Out How at CHI Summit for Clinical Ops Executives (SCOPE)

UBC's Golden Retriever Study will be highlighted at the CHI SCOPE (Summit for Clinical Ops Executives) conference.

Fido Fights Cancer – Find Out How at CHI Summit for Clinical Ops Executives (SCOPE)

I work on a study unlike any other here at UBC. Yet, the patients enrolled in this study all have very similar characteristics: they have long fur … wet noses … and wagging tails. These patients are golden retrievers.

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is underway because more than 60% of golden retrievers over the age of 2 develop cancer — their leading cause of disease-related death — with little indication why.* The Morris Animal Foundation decided to learn more and invited UBC to partner with them and manage a groundbreaking long-term observational study.

Typically, we manage observational studies that provide insight into health outcomes of patients taking a particular medical product. While no one medication is being studied, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study uses our expertise in designing and implementing large observational studies requiring Internet data capture.

The study also has allowed us to use some creative and effective recruitment techniques and we’ll complete enrollment of a little more than 3,000 golden retrievers within the next several weeks.

The study’s objectives are to:

  • Determine the incidence of cancer in golden retrievers
  • Identify genetic variants associated with common cancers in golden retrievers
  • Characterize the lifestyle, environmental and nutritional risk factors
  • Investigate associations between genetic variations, potential risk factors and the development of specific cancers
  • Determine the incidence and risk factors of other major health disorders
  • Establish extensive data and biological sample repositories for future analyses

Participating in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study requires a long-term commitment from owners who are asked to complete annual online questionnaires about their dog’s food, exercise and home environment. In addition, an annual comprehensive health examination and sample collection completed by the dog's veterinarian is required. The objectives of this study include identifying genetic variants associated with common cancers in golden retrievers and characterizing the lifestyle, environmental and nutritional risk factors.

Each day I receive calls from owners across the country. I provide information to help them complete the questionnaires and schedule veterinary appointments. Many times I can hear my patients barking in the background. After more than two years into the study, we’ve received just one report of cancer. However, all too often I talk to owners who have previously lost a golden retriever to the disease between the ages of 5 and 10. It is very likely that when the patients in my study get to this age category, many of them will develop tumors.

It’s going to be difficult when the prevalence of cancer in golden retrievers begins to show up among my patients. But when this study is complete, I know I’ll have helped create a brighter future for golden retrievers and all dogs.

*Source: GRCA.org (Glickman, et al, Golden Retriever Club of America National Health Survey 1998-1999)

Do you have a study in need of some creative and effective recruitment techniques? Join UBC at CHI Summit for Clinical Ops Executives (SCOPE). Janet Peterson, Director, Patient & Physician Services, will team up with Erin Searfoss, Senior Project Manager, Morris Animal Foundation, on Tuesday, February 25 at 12:35 p.m. to present, “Fido Fights Cancer: Lessons Learned Recruiting Four-Legged Patients in a Registry.”