The diagnosis of hemangiosarcoma in dogs is made by the veterinarian using various methods. Here are some commonly used methods for diagnosing hemangiosarcoma in dogs:
- Physical Examination: The veterinarian will perform a physical examination to assess the dog’s overall health. He or she can feel swelling or masses in the abdomen and evaluate the dog’s general condition and symptoms.
- Blood Tests: Blood tests are done to evaluate the dog’s blood parameters. Tests such as liver function tests, blood cell counts, and biochemical analyzes can help evaluate the signs and effects of liver hemangiosarcoma.
- Imaging Techniques: Imaging techniques such as x-rays, ultrasound, or computed tomography (CT) help visualize the dog’s liver and other internal organs. These imaging tests can help detect the presence, size, and extent of tumors.
- Biopsy: A tissue sample may be required to confirm the tumor. The veterinarian usually performs a biopsy under anesthesia, ultrasound guidance, or surgery. The tissue sample taken is sent to the laboratory for pathological examination. The pathologist examines the sample under a microscope and cancer identifies cells.
- Lymph node aspiration: When there is a possibility of spread of hemangiosarcoma to lymph nodes, lymph node aspiration can be performed. In this procedure, a cell sample is taken from the lymph node and examined for pathological examination.
- Surgical Examination: Sometimes surgical examination may be required to diagnose a dog’s hemangiosarcoma. This involves removing the cancerous tissue and sending it to a lab for microscopic examination.
Veterinarians can diagnose spleen hemangiosarcoma after an acute episode of fainting in a dog, or weakness after a tumor rupture. Usually, splenic hemangiosarcoma is diagnosed when the veterinarian feels an enlarged spleen or incidentally discovers a mass in the spleen during an X-ray or ultrasound. For a definitive diagnosis, biopsy from the spleen and evaluation of the samples by the pathologist are required.
Heart tumors are usually diagnosed with an ultrasound of the heart known as echocardiography. Veterinarians may suspect a heart tumor after episodes of collapse and other evidence of poor heart function. These tumors may also be discovered incidentally on routine chest X-rays.
A biopsy will also be required for definitive diagnosis, but because of the tumor’s location around the heart, a biopsy is dangerous and typically not recommended. Most heart tumors are suspected to be hemangiosarcomas, but very few are confirmed.
Cardiac hemangiosarcoma is often discovered with other types of hemangiosarcoma, particularly in the spleen. During the diagnostic review process for splenic hemangiosarcoma, veterinarians typically closely evaluate the liver, lungs, and heart, which are common sites where hemangiosarcoma has spread.
Veterinarians typically begin diagnosing skin tumors with a process called fine needle aspiration. To perform this procedure, a veterinarian will use a needle to collect a small sample of tumor cells. These cells are then evaluated under the microscope. Surgical biopsy is required for definitive diagnosis.
Using all these methods together, the veterinarian can diagnose the presence of hemangiosarcoma in the dog, evaluate the extent of the cancer’s spread, and determine the appropriate treatment plan. In any case, early diagnosis and treatment is important to improve the dog’s prognosis.
Treatment of Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs
Treatment of hemangiosarcoma in dogs, to the stage of the cancermay vary depending on the residence and the general health of the dog. Here are the methods commonly used for the treatment of hemangiosarcoma in dogs:
Surgical intervention: In the early stages of hemangiosarcoma, surgical intervention may be an option for tumor removal. Removal of the tumor can be performed partially or completely, depending on the location of the cancer and the extent of its spread. Surgery is often used to control cancer or improve the dog’s quality of life.
Chemotherapy: If complete surgical removal of the hemangiosarcoma is difficult or not possible, chemotherapy treatment may be administered. Chemotherapy uses drugs that aim to kill cancer cells or control their growth. Chemotherapy is often used after surgery or when the cancer has spread. A series of chemotherapy sessions may be required.
Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy treatment may be considered in some cases of hemangiosarcoma. Radiotherapy is the use of high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells or stop their growth. Depending on the location of the tumor and the extent of its spread, radiotherapy may be used before or after surgery or alone.
Supportive Treatments: Supportive treatments can be applied to support the general health of the dog and to combat side effects in the treatment process. Among these treatments pain managementantiemetic drugs (to vomit preventative), antioxidant supplements, and nutritional support.
Surgical removal of the tumor is the treatment of choice for most hemangiosarcomas. However, for tumors that have spread or are located in organs that cannot be removed, such as the heart, surgery is not always a practical option. Surgery is most commonly used in cases of skin hemangiosarcoma and uncomplicated splenic hemangiosarcoma.
Many forms of hemangiosarcoma will require chemotherapy and radiation therapy, with or without surgery. These treatments can greatly prolong life expectancy for most types of hemangiosarcoma.
The treatment plan is determined based on the dog’s individual situation and the veterinarian’s assessment. The treatment approach may be different in each case and it is important to follow the veterinarian’s recommendations. Hemangiosarcoma can be difficult to treat and in some cases a complete recovery may not be possible. But early diagnosis, proper treatment and supportive care can improve a dog’s quality of life and improve prognosis.
Hemangiosarcoma Recovery-Prognosis in Dogs
The prognosis of hemangiosarcoma depends on the tumor’s location, size, and spread (metastasis) to other organs. Hemangiosarcoma is quite aggressive and has high metastasis rates. Cases caught and treated early can mean a longer life expectancy for your pet, but hemangiosarcoma mainly has a poor prognosis.
Splenic hemangiosarcoma, has a poorly predicted outcome, especially in cases where surgery is not performed or the spleen is only surgically removed without chemotherapy. These dogs typically live between 2 weeks and 3 months after diagnosis. If the dog is a candidate for surgical removal of the spleen and chemotherapy, the survival time increases to approximately 9 months. However, less than 10% of dogs with splenic hemangiosarcoma are alive 1 year after diagnosis.
Cardiac hemangiosarcoma, like many other heart tumors It is also incurable and has a poor prognosis. Treatment for these dogs is palliative care that helps improve comfort and quality of life. Some dogs can live for up to 4 months if treated with chemotherapy and days to 2 weeks if untreated. These dogs have a high rate of fatal arrhythmias.
Cutaneous/subcutaneous hemangiosarcomahas a better prognosis, although it depends largely on the size of the tumor and how long it has been present. Cutaneous hemangiosarcomas, especially those caused by UV, rarely metastasize, and dogs may survive for years after surgery. Pet parents should be careful about monitoring UV-exposed areas and have any recurrent tumors removed.
Subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma carries a worse prognosis as the tumor invades the deeper layers of the skin and musculature. These dogs can only survive for months. Dogs treated with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy require frequent follow-up exams, blood work and diagnostic imaging to assess disease progression.