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To determine the incidence of histologic grade shift (alteration of grade relative to the original tumor) in recurrent canine soft tissue sarcoma (STS) and mast cell tumor (MCT), and to determine the level of agreement between blinded pathologist review and original histology interpretation of STS and MCT grades.


15 dogs with recurrent cutaneous/subcutaneous STS and 5 dogs with recurrent cutaneous MCT. All included dogs underwent excision of both the primary and recurrent tumors and had tumor samples available for review.


The medical records and histology database from a single institution were reviewed, and data were recorded and analyzed. A single board-certified veterinary pathologist performed blinded evaluation of all excisional tumor samples, including both primary and recurrent disease, and these were evaluated independently and in conjunction with initial pathologic diagnoses.


Based on single pathologist review, 7 of 15 (46.7%) dogs with recurrent STS had grade shift characterized by a higher or lower recurrent tumor grade in 4 of 7 and 3 of 7 cases, respectively, and 1 of 5 dogs with recurrent MCT had grade shift characterized by an increased grade of the recurrent tumor. Variability in reported grade between original histology report and pathologist review occurred for 13 of 30 (43.3%) STS excisional biopsy samples and 0 of 10 MCT excisional biopsy samples.


Grade shift has been reported in multiple tumor types in people and has the potential to alter prognosis and treatment recommendations. This is the first study to document this phenomenon in dogs. Additional large-scale studies are needed to determine factors associated with grade shift as well as prognostic significance of grade shift for recurrent canine STS and MCT.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association