Canine Hemangiosarcoma

Hemangiosarcoma occurs most commonly in the spleen or the right atrium of the heart in dogs. It is rather common in dogs and accounts for approximately 5-7 percent of all cases of canine cancer. In this page, you will find information on the types and symptoms of hemangiosarcoma, the possible causes of occurrence, and the kind of treatment options available for dogs diagnosed with this cancer.

Two Dogs A sarcoma refers to a cancer that arises from cancerous cells developed out of certain tissues, such as bone or muscle. Hemangiosarcoma is a type of cancer that arises out of the soft supporting tissues that surround blood vessels.

Canine hemangiosarcoma mostly affects the dog's spleen, heart, liver, subcutaneous tissue, and skin.

Hemangiosarcoma in dogs accounts for about 5 to 7% of all malignant cancers. The cancerous cells spread very rapidly and, along their way, they build their own blood vessel network which disrupts the normal functioning of the affected organs in the dog patient.

Hemangiosarcoma affects mostly middle-aged to older larger breeds of dogs. The average age of affected dog is eight to ten years. For some reason, male dogs are more susceptible to this form of cancer than female dogs. Breed-wise, German shepherds have the highest chance of developing hemangiosarcoma. Other high-risk breeds include golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, boxers, schnauzers, pointers and Doberman pinchers.

Information on Canine Hemangiosarcoma

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Types and Symptoms of Canine Hemangiosarcoma

There are three types of hemangiosarcoma in dogs:

Dermal (skin)

Hemangiosarcoma of the skin appears as a dark, raised skin lesion, usually on areas without hair, such as the abdomen.

Hypodermal (under the skin)

This type of hemangiosarcoma can arise in all parts of the dog's body, under the skin. The tumor may be soft, or it can be a firm mass with ulceration.

Visceral (splenic or cardiac)

Visceral hemangiosarcoma most commonly occurs in the dog's spleen and the right atrium of the heart. The characteristics of this type of hemangiosarcoma is that it is locally invasive and prone to spread to other locations. Many of the warning signs of visceral hemangiosarcoma are non-specific, for example, the dog may have:

  • Signs of lethargy and weakness
  • Lameness
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding, especially nosebleeding
  • Pale gums (due to anemia)
  • An enlarged abdomen (when hemangiosarcoma occurs in the spleen, the tumor sometimes can get very large)

More specific signs may be collapse or seizure caused by shock resulting from rupture of the affected organ.

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Causes and Diagnosis

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My Golden's Fight Against Hemangiosarcoma
The exact cause of hemangiosarcoma in dogs is unknown, although it is believed that genetic factors play an important part due to the presence of this cancer in certain breeds of dogs.

Early diagnosis is made with regular X-rays or ultrasound examination of the chest and abdomen.

If hemangiosacroma is suspected, further blood tests are made. Abdominal fluid is aspirated to check for the presence of blood due to internal bleeding.

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Treatment for Canine Hemangiosarcoma

Treatment for hemangiosarcoma depends on the type and location of the tumor.

Hemangiosarcoma that arises on the skin (dermal) may be removed surgically if it is small and confined only to the surface of the skin.

For treatment of hemangiosarcoma that occurs in the spleen, the heart atrium, or under the skin, it may be possible to surgically remove the primary tumor, which usually provides dramatic results. However, before surgery is even considered, an ultrasound examination should be done to see if there are lesions in the organs of the chest and abdomen, in order to determine a prognosis.

Post-surgery chemotherapy may be needed to extend the dog patient's life quality for nine to 18 months.

I'm-Yunity for Canine Hemangiosarcoma

I'm-Yunity is a supplement made from Yunshi mushroom (Coriolus versicolor) extract. According to a study done by University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, the supplement is surprisingly effective in fighting hemangiosarcoma in dogs, with no adverse effects. A researcher in the study reported that they had had dogs that lived beyond a year with nothing other than this mushroom supplement as treatment. The supplement is not inexpensive, but it is definitely worth a try to save our furkids.

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Natural Remedies May Help

Some dog parents have also reported success in using other natural remedies and a cancer diet to help their dogs with cancer. Visit our pages on Herbs for Canine Cancer and Dog Cancer Diet for more information on these two complementary treatment options.
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