Supervisors: Prof. David BrodbeltDr Dan O'Neill and Dr Sandra Guillen

Department:  Pathobiology and Population Sciences and Clinical Science and Services

Project Details

Cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in dogs and Golden Retrievers have been identified at increased risk for a number of cancers (Boerkamp et al. 2014, Shoop et al. 2015). Over the last decade, Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) has established a lifetime cohort of Golden Retrievers (GRLS) in the US (Guy et al. 2015). This cohort is now nearing the end of its life and haemangiosarcoma has been identified as a major cancer of this breed. Describing the clinical management and identifying signalment and lifestyle risk factors for haemangiosarcoma in this breed could help understand the nature and progression of this important cancer. In the UK, VetCompass has undertaken a number of cancer epidemiology studies (Shoop et al. 2015, Pittaway et al. 2019). To date though, no VetCompass study has specifically evaluated the risks of haemangiosarcoma in dogs. This study aims to evaluate the frequency and major animal and lifestyle risk factors for haemangiosarcoma in Golden Retrievers and contextualise these findings in the wider dog population within VetCompass.


  1. To estimate the frequency of haemangiosarcoma in the dogs in the UK within VetCompass in the UK
  2. Identify major breed associations for diagnosis of haemangiosarcoma within VetCompass in the UK
  3. Evaluate lifestyle and animal factors for haemangiosarcoma in Golden Retrievers in the Golden Retriever lifetime cohort

Methods: In the VetCompass study, cases of haemangiosarcoma will be identified from the electronic health records of dogs under veterinary care within VetCompass during 2019 and incidence of haemangiosarcoma will be estimated and signalment risk factors for diagnoses evaluated. Whilst using the GRLS cohort of approximately 2,000 Golden Retrievers with a complete life history, the incidence of haemangiosarcoma will be estimated. Risk factors exploration will be derived from data from the yearly owner and veterinarian questionnaires and will focus on animal life style (diet, activity, home environment).


  1. Boerkamp, K., E. Teske, L. Boon, G. Grinwis, L. van den Bossche and G. Rutteman (2014). "Estimated incidence rate and distribution of tumours in 4,653 cases of archival submissions derived from the Dutch golden retriever population." BMC Veterinary Research 10(1): 34.

  2. Guy, M. K., R. L. Page, W. A. Jensen, P. N. Olson, J. D. Haworth, E. E. Searfoss and D. E. Brown (2015). "The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study: establishing an observational cohort study with translational relevance for human health." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 370(1673).

  3. Pittaway, C., I. Schofield, J. Dobson, D. G. O'Neill and D. C. Brodbelt (2019). "Incidence and risk factors for the diagnosis of lymphoma in dogs in UK primary-care practice." Journal of Small Animal Practice. 60(10):581-588

  4. Shoop, S., S. Marlow, D. Church, K. English, P. McGreevy, A. Stell, P. Thomson, D. O'Neill and D. Brodbelt (2015). "Prevalence and risk factors for mast cell tumours in dogs in England." Canine Genetics and Epidemiology 2(1): 1.



  • Must meet our standard MRes entry requirements.
  • Do not need to be a vet or have an epidemiological background but must have a background in animal science.


  • Experience of primary-care veterinary practice.
  • A primary degree in veterinary medicine.
  • Clinical experience and interest in oncology.
  • Experience of epidemiology.

This can be taken full-time or part-time (12months FTE) project commencing in October 2023, based at RVC's Hawkshead campus.


This is a funded project: The project costs and “Home” tuition fees are covered by funding from Morris Animal Foundation. The student will receive a stipend.

International applicants are welcome to apply but must be able to fund the difference between "Home" and "Overseas" tuition fees.

How to Apply

For more information on the application process and English Language requirements see How to Apply.

Deadline: 26th March 2023

We welcome informal enquiries - these should be directed to 

Interview date and location: TBC (May 2023)

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