Oncology-Pathology Working Group

 A Joint Venture of the Veterinary Cancer Society and
American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP)

Putting Veterinary Cancer Care on the Right Path

The overall mission of the group is to foster and promote an integrated working relationship between veterinary oncologists (medical, surgical and radiation) and pathologists (anatomic and clinical) to facilitate and ensure the highest standard of pathology support and reporting for the advancement of veterinary clinical oncology and cancer research. Through this interdisciplinary effort, the group will, amongst other efforts, work to establish consensus documents designed to standardize aspects of and provide guidelines for oncologic pathology.  The group will additionally seek sponsorship and support for said documents from other groups/organizations with similar interests including but not limited to the: American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Oncology), Veterinary Cooperative Oncology Group, Veterinary Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, and Veterinary Society of Surgical Oncology. Specific objectives of the group include:

  • To facilitate and promote a working relationship and communication between veterinary oncologists (surgical, medical, and radiation) and pathologists (anatomic & clinical)
  • To establish consensus and promote species-specific tumor grading systems based upon published peer-reviewed scientifically-supported evidence
  • To establish consensus and promote species-specific tumor prognostic parameters based upon published peer-reviewed scientifically-supported evidence
  • To establish consensus and promote tumor and species-specific predictive parameters based upon published peer-reviewed scientifically-supported evidence
  • To identify deficient or inadequate areas in oncology/pathology in need of further investigation.
  • To provide recommendations/guidelines on research-related (retrospective & prospective studies) pathological evaluation and design to strengthen published scientific data
  • To facilitate investigative collaborations between oncologists and pathologists
  • To promote education and outreach to general practitioners and trainees
  • To promote increased interdisciplinary training during residency
  • To promote education & training in oncologic pathology and, ultimately, to put forth criteria and goals for a one-year fellowship for advanced specialized training in oncologic pathology.
  • To function as a resource to disseminate and provide accessible information on but not limited to:
    •    Tumor biopsy techniques
    •    Tumor biopsy sample submission
    •    Tissue trimming methods for surgical margin evaluation
    •    Recommended tumor biopsy reporting parameters
    •    Post-report options available to clinicians
    •    Use and interpretation of histochemical and immunohistochemical stains.
    •    Consensus on species-specific tumor grading schemes
    •    Consensus on species-specific tumor prognostic parameters
    •    Consensus on species-specific tumor predictive parameters
    •    Specific areas in need of further investigation
  • To access the OPWG Members Online Discussion Forum, click here.
  • Access to the recent consensus paper Recommended guidelines for submission, trimming, margin evaluation, and reporting of tumor biopsy specimens in veterinary surgical pathology. (Vet Pathol. 2011 Jan;48(1):19-31) is available at Vet SXBX Guidelines.
  • OPWG Resident Cross-Training Survey Results
  • OPWG Frequently Asked Questions, click here for OPWG FAQs.


President  Joanne Intile DVM, MS, DACVIM (Oncology)
President-Elect  Samantha Schlemmer, DVM, MS, DACVO (CP)
Secretary  Ryan Dickinson DVM, BA, DACVP (CP)
Past President  Heather Priest, DVM, DACVP (CP)
Founding President  Debra Kamstock, DVM, PhD, DACVP (AP)


Canine Lymphoma Subgroup
Michael Childress, DVM MS DACVIM (Oncology)
Co-Chair: Luca Aresu, DVM, PhD
Focus: To create evidence-based, relevant and practical, best-practice guidelines for the diagnosis and classification of canine nodal lymphoma.

Canine Mammary Tumor Subgroup
 Henrik Ronnberg, DVM PhD DECVIM-CA (Oncology)
Co-Chair: Laura Pena, DVM PhD DECVP (AP)
Focus: Classification and grading of malignant canine mammary tumors
Literature for Review

Canine Prostate Tumor Subgroup
Chair: Chiara Palmieri, DVM, PhD DECVP (AP)
Co-Chair: William TN Culp, VMD DACVS
Focus: Histopathologic classification of canine prostate cancer


Clinical Pathology Subgroup
 Heather Priest, DVM DACVP (CP)
Co-Chair: Cecilia Robat, DVM DACVIM (Oncology)
Focus: Diagnostic immunocytochemistry: applications and markers

Education and Outreach
Chair: Jennifer Steinberg, DVM MS Dipl. ACVP (CP)
Co-Chair: Rachel Venable, DVM MS DACVIM (Oncology)
Focus: Oncology and pathology residency cross-training: past, present, future

MCT Subgroup, Prognostic & Predictive Markers
Chair: Doug Thamm, DVM MS DACVIM (Oncology)
Co-Chair: Josh Webster, DVM PhD DACVP (AP)
Focus: Prognostic and predictive significance of KIT expression and c-kit
mutations in canine cutaneous mast cell tumors

MCT Subgroup, Update on Grading
Chair: Davide Berlato, DECVIM-CA (Onc) MSc (Clinical Onc) PhD MRCVS
Co-Chair: Roberta Rassoto, DVM PhD MRCVS DECVP (AP)
Focus: Update to the current OPWG CCMCT consensus on grading (est. Feb 2013) 

Canine Melanoma Subgroup
 Philip Bergman, DVM PhD DACVIM (Oncology)
Co-Chair: Rebecca Smedley, DVM MS DACVP (AP)
Focus: Prognostic markers for canine melanocytic tumors

Soft Tissue Sarcoma Subgroup
Chair: Marlene Hauck, DVM PhD DACVIM (Oncology)
Co-Chair: Donald Meuten, DVM PhD DACVP (AP & CP)
Focus: Grading of canine soft tissue sarcomas


  • Mark your calendar. The next OPWG meeting will be held virtually this fall.  Stay tuned for details.
  • The VCS OPWG is now the VCS-ACVP OPWG, a joint venture of the Veterinary Cancer Society and the American College of Veterinary Pathologists!  The interest by the ACVP in the mission and goals of the OPWG is a testament to the interdisciplinary nature of this initiative!  The OPWG looks forward to working with both VCS and ACVP as we continue to work collectively and across disciplines toward standardization and provision of guidelines in veterinary oncologic pathology.


If you are interested in working with and becoming a member of the OPWG, please complete the OPWG Membership Application Form and submit to opwg.vcs@gmail.com.  Active membership in VCS, ACVP or other international equivalent (e.g. ESVONC, ECVP) is required for OPWG membership eligibility.  Active membership in AAVLD or ASVCP also meets OPWG membership eligibility for current residents.


  • For general information or inquiries please contact vetcancersociety@yahoo.com.
  • For more specific inquires or if interested in chairing or co-chairing a subgroup, please contact us at opwg.vcs@gmail.com
  • If you are interested in actively working on one of the subgroups listed above, please email opwg.vcs@gmail.com and provide the name of the subgroup you are interested in working with.

Please check back to the OPWG web page intermittently as updates will continuously be made.