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January 27, 2023 – Does exposure to certain chemicals increase the likelihood of lymphoma? Dr. Lauren Trepanier, a Foundation-funded cancer researcher and Assistant Dean for Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, thinks the answer might be yes.

Dr. Trepanier has a personal stake in finding answers, having lost several of her own dogs to lymphoma. After her last dog, Tucker, developed the disease, she started to ask some questions.

“It was heartbreaking for me. I’ve also diagnosed lymphoma in other people’s dogs more times than I care to remember. I want to decrease the risk of owners having to go through that,” said Dr. Trepanier.

Although lymphoma is a common canine cancer, causes remain obscure. However, studies show a strong link between exposure to compounds such as benzene and the development of lymphoma in people. Dr. Trepanier is measuring similar compounds in the urine and blood of dogs enrolled in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study that were diagnosed with lymphoma to see if a connection exists in dogs too.

“We’ll be looking at samples collected in the year prior to diagnosis as well as those collected at the time of diagnosis,” said Dr. Trepanier. “It’s helpful to look at two time points, which makes these study samples incredibly valuable.”

Results from the new study could help dog owners learn how to minimize exposure to cancer-causing compounds and potentially reduce the risk that lymphoma holds for their dogs.