Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs

The spleen is an oblong organ – some would say it is tongue-shaped – seated just below the stomach. While one can live perfectly well without a spleen, the spleen does provide some helpful services to the body. Some of these functions include providing stored blood in times of acute hemorrhage, filters out infected cells, and breaks down old red blood cells.

Hemangiosarcomas are a type of malignant cancer most often found in the blood vessels of the spleen in dogs. It is also found in the liver and is actually the most common tumor found in the heart of dogs. These tumors also present themselves on the skin of a dog and may look like small red moles. Hemangiosarcomas also occur in cats, though very rare. This cancer is often found in German Shepherd Dogs and Golden Retrievers. This cancer is equivalent to Angiosarcomas in humans.

Symptoms of Hemangiosarcoma:
     • Usually the patient is suddenly weak.
     • The patient may be obviously cold.
     • The gums will be pale in color.
     • If the bleed stops on its own, the patient will be dramatically better
the next day or even a few hours later.

Unfortunately, this particular cancer is very aggressive. Most commonly when the hemangiosarcoma is attached to the splee, unless the spleen is surgically removed by an experienced surgeon such as Dr. Carl Koehler (ACVS) of Encina Veterinary Hospital, the pet will eventually pass away due to significant bleeding. Along with a splenectomy (removal of the spleen), chemotherapy is also typically suggested for the best possible outcome and longest life expectancy in this situation.

Jared Jaffey, DVM