Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Recognizing hemangiosarcoma before it spreads is a tall order. Hemangiosarcoma of the skin may look and feel like a fatty tumor (which is not malignant). Fine needle aspiration, a procedure in which a thin needle is used to draw fluid or cells from a lump or mass under the skin, may just reveal blood, but to me, this situation would put me on alert for a diagnosis of cutaneous hemangiosarcoma. Early detection of this tumor is nearly impossible when it occurs in an internal organ like the heart or spleen, because its signs are very subtle. Your pet’s annual physical examination, where your veterinarian does a nose-to-tail evaluation, may allow a splenic mass to be detected during abdominal palpation, but only if it is large enough to be detected in this way. Blood tests obtained at the annual check-up may reveal an unexplained anemia, but they also may be completely normal. Diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays and ultrasound, may also lead to the discovery of hemangiosarcoma.
The first steps in treating hemangiosarcoma involve surgery to remove the bleeding tumor and a biopsy of the excised tissue to confirm the diagnosis. Once your pet has recovered from surgery, a consultation with a veterinary oncologist (cancer specialist) will help define the role of chemotherapy in your pet’s treatment. Chemotherapy is often recommended to slow the spread of cancer throughout the body. Surgery as the sole treatment results in about a 3-month average survival; the addition of chemotherapy can double that expected survival time for many dogs with splenic hemangiosarcoma, the most common location for the tumor. Unfortunately, due to its subtle nature, hemangiosarcoma is sometimes detected so late that treatment options can be very limited.
Current investigation into the DNA abnormalities underlying hemangiosarcoma indicates that this tumor has cells that are more resistant to cancer treatments than the average cancer cell. Another line of research suggests that the immune system of certain breeds, like the Golden Retriever, has a decreased ability to recognize and clear cancer cells from the body, leading to the breed’s increased risk for hemangiosarcoma. These facts now give veterinary researchers targets for potential therapies and pet owners hope for new treatments in the future.
More from Vetstreet:
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.