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Hemangiosarcoma in Cats

By: Dr. Kimberly Cronin

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Hemangiosarcoma must be differentiated from other diseases that might cause similar clinical signs. For example, diseases of the heart such as an irregular heart rhythm can cause pets to show signs of weakness or collapse. There are several other malignant tumors that can appear as a mass in the spleen including:

  • Fibrosarcomas
  • Malignant fibrous histiocytomas
  • Undifferentiated sarcomas
  • Osteosarcomas

    These tumors can also rupture leading to bleeding from the spleen and the development of anemia. Some systemic cancers may involve the spleen either in addition to other sites or as the primary site. The two most common cancers where this occurs are lymphosarcoma and mast cell tumor. Although not common, other tumors can spread or metastasize to the spleen causing similar signs as hemangiosarcoma.

    Other diseases that can cause similar signs include:

  • Hemangioma, which is the benign counterpart of hemangiosarcoma. This tumor can cause the same clinical signs as hemangiosarcoma but does not spread to other areas of the body. This tumor type is rare.

  • Splenic torsion. The spleen can become twisted, which can lead to enlargement of the spleen and possible rupture.

  • Hematoma of the spleen. A blood clot can form in the spleen causing anemia and/or a mass in the spleen. Although generally there is a history of trauma, this can also occur without any known injury.

  • Aortic body tumor, which is the most common other tumor of the heart. This can occur in the same location as hemangiosarcoma and cause similar signs. Ultrasound of the heart may not be able to differentiate between hemangiosarcoma and other tumor types such as an aortic body tumor.

  • Idiopathic pericardial effusion. This condition causes fluid build-up around the heart. The cause is unknown but it can be managed by periodic removal of the fluid or surgery. Other types of tumors can also cause pericardial effusion.

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