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In Animals : an open access journal from MDPI

Canine mammary tumors (CMTs) represent a serious issue in worldwide veterinary practice and several risk factors are variably implicated in the biology of CMTs. The present study examines the relationship between risk factors and histological diagnosis of a large CMT dataset from three academic institutions by classical statistical analysis and supervised machine learning methods. Epidemiological, clinical, and histopathological data of 1866 CMTs were included. Dogs with malignant tumors were significantly older than dogs with benign tumors (9.6 versus 8.7 years, P < 0.001). Malignant tumors were significantly larger than benign counterparts (2.69 versus 1.7 cm, P < 0.001). Interestingly, 18% of malignant tumors were smaller than 1 cm in diameter, providing compelling evidence that the size of the tumor should be reconsidered during the assessment of the TNM-WHO clinical staging. The application of the logistic regression and the machine learning model identified the age and the tumor's size as the best predictors with an overall diagnostic accuracy of 0.63, suggesting that these risk factors are sufficient but not exhaustive indicators of the malignancy of CMTs. This multicenter study increases the general knowledge of the main epidemiologica-clinical risk factors involved in the onset of CMTs and paves the way for further investigations of these factors in association with CMTs and in the application of machine learning technology.

Burrai Giovanni P, Gabrieli Andrea, Moccia Valentina, Zappulli Valentina, Porcellato Ilaria, Brachelente Chiara, Pirino Salvatore, Polinas Marta, Antuofermo Elisabetta


age, breed, dogs, machine learning, mammary tumor size, reproductive and hormonal status