Hemangiosarcoma is cancer of the blood vessels (arteries and veins). The most common organs where this type of cancer is found in dogs are the spleen, heart, skin, and liver. The tumors tend to get very large, since they are filled with blood. Very large tumors are commonly seen in the spleen.
When this cancer is inside the dog’s body, the rate of metastasis (spread to other parts of the body) is high. Usually when the first tumor is diagnosed, it has already gone somewhere else. When the hermangiosarcoma is on the skin, the percentage of metastasis is much less and these tumors can be more easily removed.
Hermangiosarcoma Symptoms in Dogs
Signs that a dog might have hermangiosarcoma are dependent upon where the cancer is. This type of tumor on a dog’s spleen can sometimes cause weakness in the hind legs, as well as a decrease in energy. This may be experienced for a day or two and then the dog gets back to normal only to experience symptoms again a couple of months later.
This appearance and disappearance of symptoms is caused by the tumor. The dog may get weak and wobbly and the gums may become pale or white due to lack of circulating blood because it is all being concentrated in the tumor. Then, the blood from the tumor goes back into circulation and the dog gets his energy back.
Sometimes hermangiosarcoma in dogs shows itself as weight loss, decreased appetite, and low energy.
Treatment of Hermangiosarcoma in Dogs
Surgery is often the primary method of treating this cancer. If it is in the dog’s spleen, either some or all of the spleen is removed. Less than 10% of dogs live longer than a year after surgery. If the Hermangiosarcoma is on the dog’s heart, the prognosis is usually 7-8 months. If the cancer is on the skin, there is about an 80% chance of being cured with surgery.
Chemotherapy is sometimes used for spleen and heart-infected dogs and can increase survival time by about 5 or 6 months. Radiation has not been shown to be as successful.