Cancer Studies: Information for Owners

Malignant Histiocytosis/Histiocytic Sarcoma and Soft Tissue Sarcomas in Flat-Coated Retrievers


For additional information, see Frequently Asked Questions About Cancer Study Participation or contact the a member of the Cancer Studies Support Team.

To make study participation easier, the FCR Foundation will reimburse all owners up to $100 for tissue samples and up to $50 for blood samples submitted to any of these studies (receipts required).  Contact Cheryl Kistner at with requests.

Please note the following CHANGES/UPDATES in study information:

  1. Dr. Breen is currently recruiting for a new study of histiocytic sarcoma, malignant histiocytosis and soft tissue sarcomas
  2. Drs. Breen and Modiano are recruiting blood and tumor samples for studies of HEMANGIOSARCOMA, LYMPHOMA and OSTEOSARCOMA
  3. With regard to the study of Drs. Ostrander and Parker, the contact information has changed and health updates can now be made online

Basic information on the current studies is outlined below and elsewhere on this site.  If your dog has cancer, please contact the Support Team at .  The dedicated volunteers on this Team can help you decide which project would benefit from your participation, guide you through the process, contact the researchers for you, and give you the most current instructions.  Any information you share with a Team member will be considered strictly confidential.  Please participate in these studies if you possibly can.  A diagnosis of cancer is heart breaking, but your ailing companion could make a difference to the health and longevity of our breed in the future.  Your dog could leave a Legacy of Hope for a brighter future for all Flat-Coated Retrievers and their owners.

Breen and Breen/Modiano Studies (Hemangiosarcoma, Lymphoma and Osteosarcoma)

Lab Contact: (E-mail), 919-513-1466 (phone), 919-513-7301 (Fax)

  • Drs. Breen and Modiano have three studies that they are currently recruiting for:   First, There are two studies jointly between the Breen and Modiano labs, that our dogs are eligible for – these studies are aimed at increasing understanding of the genetic underpinnings of lymphoma, osteosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma.  Second, the two labs have a joint study aimed at leukemia,and third, Dr Breen has a new study extending the work that we have previously supported on soft tissue sarcomas and histiocytic malignancies. We are hoping that the results obtained could lead to improvements in diagnosis and treatment. 
  • Dogs diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma or osteosarcoma are eligible to participate.  Both blood and tumor samples are requested from affected dogs who have NOT received chemo or radiation therapy.  For affected dogs who have received chemo or radiation, or in cases where tumor samples are not available, blood samples alone are requested. 
  • In addition, the researchers request blood samples from (i) dogs age 10 or older who have never had cancer, and from (ii) first-degree relatives of affected dog.
  • If you are planning to have tumor samples collected at the time of euthanasia, be sure to give the study information to your vet in advance so that he can be prepared.  In case your regular vet is unwilling to participate or unavailable at the time of euthanasia, find out about emergency clinics in your area.  Keep a copy of the vet flyer in your car or in your wallet so you will be sure to have it with you when you need it.  If tumor samples are to be collected postmortem, it is recommended that the blood sample be sent in advance. 
  • The following paperwork is required: (i) a pathology report indicating the type of cancer, (ii) a 5-generation pedigree (including dog’s AKC number), and (iii) a completed Consent Form.  These can be sent separately from blood and tumor samples.  In addition, send a copy of any relevant recent (last three months) clinical history and treatment protocols as well as a copy of any planned cancer treatment protocols to be administered.
  • Periodically, the Breen lab is unable to receive samples for short periods of time due to travel, University closings, etc.  Before sending samples to Dr. Breen, please contact the Support Team or check Dr. Breen’s web site ( to see if there are currently any special instructions regarding sample submission.
  • As soon as samples are ready for sending, notify the Breen lab () so they can be ready to receive them.
  • Instructions for your veterinarian can be found under: Veterinarian Information for Breen & Modiano Study (pdf).

Ostrander Study (Malignant Histiocytosis/Histiocytic Sarcoma only)

Lab Contact: Gretchen Carpintero, (E-mail),301-451-9390 (phone), 301-594-0023 (Fax)

  • The study of Drs. Ostrander and Parker aims to identify the gene that causes malignant histiocytosis, and the related disease, histiocytic sarcoma.  This information will allow the development of a genetic test to identify dogs that carry the mutation for these dreaded diseases. 
  • This study requires blood samples from dogs affected with histiocytic sarcoma or malignant histiocytosis, as well as dogs over nine years of age who have never been diagnosed with cancer (for control purposes).
  • Dr. Ostrander provides a kit free of charge; it is not essential, but includes collection tubes for blood as well as paperwork to make the process easier.  Contact Donna Viglietti (at ) to obtain a kit.
  • Supporting documentation includes a 3-generation pedigree and a Consent Form.  In addition, a copy of the pathology report is required for affected dogs; a general description of the dog's health is required for healthy old dogs. Information submitted is confidential.  It will not be shared with the AKC, breeders or owners; it may be shared with collaborators, Drs. Sargan and Breen. 
  • The Consent Form comes with the kit; it can also be obtained from Gretchen Carpintero () or from the Support Team.
  • Dogs undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy CAN participate in this research.
  • Health Updates:  If a member of the healthy dog group is later diagnosed with any type of cancer, this information must be transmitted to the researchers by phone or E-mail.  Alternatively, health information can be updated online at (contact Donna Viglietti for the password). Similarly, health information for dogs banked at the AHT must be regularly updated to avoid the possibility of a dog with cancer being included in the control group.
  • Instructions for your veterinarian can be found on the following pages: Veterinarian Information for Ostrander Study (pdf).