Overview of Canine Hemangiosarcoma
Hemangiosarcoma is a malignant cancer of the cells that form blood vessels. Because these tumors start in blood vessels, they are frequently filled with blood. Consequently, when a blood-filled tumor ruptures, it can cause problems with internal or external bleeding. In dogs, hemangiosarcoma is considered to be a very aggressive tumor and can spread rapidly to other organs. Hemangiosarcoma is commonly abbreviated as “HSA”.
Hemangiosarcoma is more common in dogs than in cats. It usually occurs in middle-aged to older dogs 9 to 11 years of age, and German shepherds appear to be predisposed to developing this cancer.
The most common primary location of this cancer in dogs is the spleen. Other primary locations include the heart, liver, skin, and bone; however, it can start in any location where blood vessels are present. These tumors usually spread to the lungs, liver, spleen and heart.
Signs of this disease are usually the result of the tumor rupturing, which causes bleeding. This may occur without any warning, and the symptoms will depend upon where the tumor is located.
What to Watch For
Signs of hemangiosarcoma in dogs may include:
Diagnosis of Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) in Dogs
Diagnostic tests that may be needed to recognize hemangiosarcoma and to direct treatment include:
Treatment of Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) in Dogs
The treatment and prognosis depends upon the location of the tumor. When the tumor occurs in an internal organ such as the spleen or heart, the chances of long-term survival are poor. Treatment is more successful when this cancer occurs in the skin. Exposure to the sun may play a role in the development of this type of skin cancer. Dogs with poorly-pigmented skin and sparse hair coats, such as the whippet, saluki, bloodhound and English pointer, are more likely to develop this form of hemangiosarcoma. There is no known cause of hemangiosarcoma in other locations. In humans, exposure to certain chemicals such as vinyl chloride has been implicated as a cause.
Treatment for hemangiosarcoma in dogs may include the following:
Home Care and Prevention
Seek veterinary attention promptly if your dog develops pale gums, signs of weakness or collapse. Have any new lumps on your pet evaluated by your veterinarian.
Minimize your dog’s exposure to the sun, especially dogs that are poorly pigmented and have a sparse hair coat.
In-depth Information on Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) in Dogs
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:
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: