Hemangiosarcoma In Dogs – What Every Pet Parent Needs To know
Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is a cancerous tumor from cells that normally produce blood vessels. In certain cases, the cause of hemangiosarcoma is uncertain. However, we know that sunlight can cause cancer in the belly skin, inner thighs, eyelids and eyelid membranes of pale/pink skin and thin fur animals living in very hot climates.
Hemangiosarcoma is more common in dogs than any other breed and primarily affects the middle ages to older dogs. Some breeds, such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers, are more vulnerable to the production of non-cutaneous HSA than other species.
What Are The Symptoms?
Medical symptoms of HSA are frequently linked to tumor rupture and hemorrhage, including:
- Abdominal distension
- Pale mucus membranes
Dogs with tumors affecting the right atrium of the heart may have:
- Muffled sound of the heart
- Signs of heart failure
Some dogs can suffer sudden death due to a rupture of the mass at a critical location or serious and acute loss of blood to the body’s cavity.
HSA can occur as cutaneous, subcutaneous or deep mass invasive or muscle-derived. These locations can cause lameness, extreme swelling within the muscle or edema of the affected area.
How Is The Diagnosis Made?
A biopsy is required to accurately diagnose HSA. Surgical removal, if necessary, is appropriate for skin lesions. Abdominal ultrasound can recognize mass for suspected spleen tumors, but surgical removal of spleen and tumor is required. Cardiac ultrasound is needed to make a presumptive diagnosis of HSA in the heart, although a surgical biopsy is needed to make a proper diagnosis.
How Is Hemangiosarcoma Treated?
Surgery: Surgery is the main treatment for intra-abdominal mass, right auricular mass, subcutaneous/intramuscular mass, and bone lesions. This is usually performed before mass or mass rupture, when the animal is stable. Unfortunately, with presentations relating to liver and splenic disease, surgery also needs to be performed on an evolving basis while the pet is in a critical situation.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy is intended for preventative therapy for cancers affecting intramuscular tissues and for the treatment of bone pain with hemangiosarcomas in the bone. It is not often used for intra-thoracic/intra-abdominal hemangiosarcoma representations.
Chemotherapy: the main chemotherapy drug used to treat this aggressive cancer Is doxorubicin (Adriamycin). Some guidelines pair this agent with cyclophosphamide; however, no substantial extra advantage with the combination has been observed.
Immunotherapy: In addition to traditional chemotherapy treatments, immunotherapy involving L-MTP-PE may be considered in the hope of enhancing the immune system response. This method is only offered as an investigation option and is not allowed in the United States.
Investigational/Clinical Trial Opportunities: Research options and/or clinical trials can also be considered when available and where animals are eligible to participate.
What Is The Cost Of The Treatment?
The cost of treatment is dependent on the type of chemotherapy drug used and how it is prescribed. During your consultation, the oncologist will have a wide-ranging conversation with you about your pet and what procedure is most suitable. You will then be presented with the approximate costs of diagnosis and care.
What Is The Prognosis?
Hemangiosarcoma is seldom treatable and the long-term prognosis for hemangiosarcoma dogs is poor. Dogs with internal organ damage who are treated with surgery on their own live an average of just 2 months. Dogs that do not have visible metastasis at the time of surgery and are treated with chemotherapy, live for an average of 6 to 10 months. Some dogs with demonstrable metastasis can also react to chemotherapy, offering a longer quality of life compared to dogs who are not treated at all. Dogs with this type of cancer found in the subcutaneous tissues (only under the skin) live with surgery alone for an average of around 6 months.
Dogs with a primary spleen tumor that has not ruptured have a stronger prognosis. However, if the spleen has separated before it can be removed, the prognosis is worse. The combination of splenectomy and chemotherapy may boost survival time, but less than 10% of dogs live a little over a year.
The Take-Away Message About Hemangiosarcoma In Dogs
Hemangiosarcoma is a highly malignant cancer caused from endothelial cells. Tumors can be located anywhere in the body and most often affect the spleen, liver, heart, and skin. Early detection and care is important. Recently, several experimental approaches have been studied and preliminary findings have been found uplifting.
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