Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) also called malignant hemangioendothelioma or angiosarcoma is a deadly cancer that originates in the endothelium and invades the blood vessels.
There are three types of hemangiosarcomas: dermal (on the skin), hypodermal (under the skin), and visceral (spleen, pericardium, heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, bladder, uterus, among other locations).
Splenic malignancies account for 45% to 51% and are therefore the most commonly diagnosed and the deadliest. Hemangiosarcoma is mostly seen in middle-aged to older dogs. Though it can occur in any breed, German shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors have a predilection for the disease. It is also believed that male dogs are slightly predisposed than their female counterparts.
While the causes of this disease are not specifically known, heredity contribute to the disease’s risk factors.
Dermal HSA appears as a red or black growth on hairless portions like the abdomen. Dogs with less fur like Dalmatians and Pit bull terriers have a high propensity for this disease.
Visceral tumors are hard to detect before they manifest clinically. The average time from discovery of the tumor until death occurs in affected dogs is 6 to 8 weeks, and symptoms vary depending on the tumor’s location.
Common symptoms for visceral HSA are acute weakness or collapse. Other signs include lethargy, lack of appetite, weight loss, abdominal bloated abdomen, nose bleeding, fatigue, pale color of the mucous membranes of the mouth and the eyes and increased respiratory rates.
Dr. Mason's lab is currently recruiting dogs for a novel clinical trial using immunotherapy to treat canine hemangiosarcoma.