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BMC Vet Res. 2014 Sep 3;10:168. doi: 10.1186/s12917-014-0168-9.

The changing global distribution and prevalence of canine transmissible venereal tumour.



The canine transmissible venereal tumour (CTVT) is a contagious cancer that is naturally transmitted between dogs by the allogeneic transfer of living cancer cells during coitus. CTVT first arose several thousand years ago and has been reported in dog populations worldwide; however, its precise distribution patterns and prevalence remain unclear.


We analysed historical literature and obtained CTVT prevalence information from 645 veterinarians and animal health workers in 109 countries in order to estimate CTVT's former and current global distribution and prevalence. This analysis confirmed that CTVT is endemic in at least 90 countries worldwide across all inhabited continents. CTVT is estimated to be present at a prevalence of one percent or more in dogs in at least 13 countries in South and Central America as well as in at least 11 countries in Africa and 8 countries in Asia. In the United States and Australia, CTVT was reported to be endemic only in remote indigenous communities. Comparison of current and historical reports of CTVT indicated that its prevalence has declined in Northern Europe, possibly due to changes in dog control laws during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Analysis of factors influencing CTVT prevalence showed that presence of free-roaming dogs was associated with increased CTVT prevalence, while dog spaying and neutering were associated with reduced CTVT prevalence. Our analysis indicated no gender bias for CTVT and we found no evidence that animals with CTVT frequently harbour concurrent infectious diseases. Vincristine was widely reported to be the most effective therapy for CTVT.


Our results provide a survey of the current global distribution of CTVT, confirming that CTVT is endemic in at least 90 countries worldwide. Additionally, our analysis highlights factors that continue to modify CTVT's prevalence around the world and implicates free-roaming dogs as a reservoir for the disease. Our analysis also documents the disappearance of the disease from the United Kingdom during the twentieth century, which appears to have been an unintentional result of the introduction of dog control policies.

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