Canine haemangiosarcoma is also known as malignanthaemangioendothelioma or angiosarcoma. It originates in the endothelium cells, which are the cells that line the interior surface of the blood vessels. It then invades the blood vessels.
There are three types of haemangiosarcoma. Dermal when found on the skin, hypodermal or sub-cutaneous when found under the skin and visceral when found in the organs like the spleen orheart. The spleen is wherehaemangiosarcoma is most commonly diagnosed and the prognosis in this areawithout treatment is poor.
These tumours are mostly found in middle aged to older dogs. Althoughhaemangiosarcoma can affect any breed of dog, some breeds of dogs such as German Shepherd, Golden Retriever and Labrador are at higher risk.
Dermal haemangiosarcomaappears as a red or black growth on hairless portions of your dogs coat. Dogs like Dalmations and bull terriers are at higher risk of the disease. Sub cutaneous and visceral tumours appear on internal organs and there is often very little warning before they cause severe clinical signs. The average time for survival once a visceral tumour has been discovered is six to eight weeks. Symptoms ofhaemangiosarcomacan depend on the location of the tumour. Your dog may show signs including lethargy, weakness, lack of appetite, coughing, weight loss and swelling of the abdomen.
Surgery for dogs with a cutaneous tumour is curable but it has to be aggressive to ensure that enough tissue surrounding the tumour is removed so the margins are clean and no cancerous cells remain. When a tumour is found on the spleen the preferred treatment is to remove the spleen. Chemotherapy is normally recommended after surgeryfor thesubcutaneous and visceral forms. Surgery combined with chemotherapy increases the median survival rate. Overall the prognosis for dogs with splenic or atrial haemangiosarcomais poor.
**Accuracy checked 13 September 2013,
Dr Ken Wyatt BSc BVMS FANZCVS,
Registered Specialist in Veterinary Oncology,
Perth Veterinary Oncology
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