Cytologic Criteria for Mast Cell Tumor Grading in Dogs With Evaluation of Clinical Outcome

M. S. Camus, H. L. Priest, J. W. Koehler, E. A. Driskell, P. M. Rakich, M. R. Ilha, P. M. Krimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A 2-tiered histologic grading scheme for canine cutaneous mast cell tumors (MCTs) is based on morphologic characteristics of neoplastic cells, including karyomegaly, multinucleation, nuclear pleomorphism, and mitotic figures. Aspirates from MCTs may provide the same information more quickly, inexpensively, and less invasively. This study used these criteria to develop a cytologic grading scheme for canine MCTs to predict outcome. Three anatomic pathologists graded histologic samples from 152 canine MCTs. Three clinical pathologists evaluated aspirates from these masses using similar criteria. A cytologic grading scheme was created based on correlation with histologic grade and evaluated with a kappa statistic. Survival was evaluated with Kaplan-Meier survival curves. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate hazard ratios for tumor grades and individual grading components. Simple logistic regression tested for relationships between risk factors and mortality. The cytologic grading scheme that best correlated with histology (kappa = 0.725 ± 0.085) classified a tumor as high grade if it was poorly granulated or had at least 2 of 4 findings: mitotic figures, binucleated or multinucleated cells, nuclear pleomorphism, or >50% anisokaryosis. The cytologic grading scheme had 88% sensitivity and 94% specificity relative to histologic grading. Dogs with histologic and cytologic high grade MCTs were 39 times and 25 times more likely to die within the 2-year follow-up period, respectively, than dogs with low grade MCTs. High tumor grade was associated with increased probability of additional tumors or tumor regrowth. This study concluded that cytologic grade is a useful predictor for treatment planning and prognostication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1117-1123
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • cytology
  • dog
  • grading
  • histology
  • mast cell tumor
  • neoplasia
  • skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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