What is Hemangiosacrcoma?
Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is a type of tumor that is aggressive and malignant. It originates from blood vessels and grows in the organs. We do not know what causes this to occur in most cases, although hereditary and sunlight exposure can be predisposing factors.
Who and What does it affect?
Middle to older aged dogs are mostly diagnosed. The tumor typically affects the spleen and the heart and presents as a mass. When the mass starts bleeding the patient acts very sick. This is often when we diagnose the tumor.
What are the symptoms?
Early on in the disease process there may non specific signs such as lethargy, innappetance and exercise intolerance. Owners notice their dog is very weak and tired. When looking at the gums they are pale pink or white and the pet is often breathing quickly. The body is not getting enough oxygen because the blood carries the oxygen and then the tumor bleeds there is blood loss. This also causes pets to collapse. The blood can bleed into the abdominal cavity or around the heart depending where it is located. This can cause a bloated belly appearance.
What is the treatment?
Unfortunately there is no cure. Surgery can be performed to remove large spleen masses but does not treat the origin or spread of the tumors. When symptoms are present it is likely the tumor is already widespread, even if only on a microscopic level because it spreads by blood vessels. A specialty hospital with an oncologist will be able to guide you through staging and options for chemotherapy and statistical outcomes.
What is the future for my dog?
Unfortunately dogs with hemangiosaccoma have a very poor prognosis. With surgical removal of the tumor the survival window is 1-4 months. If your dog has been diagnosed it is important to be very aware they can suddenly decline and pass away due to the internal bleeding. It is important to keep them comfortable and calm and monitor closely for fast breathing and pale gums. If you see this please seek vet advice immediately. We are here to help you.