Prognosis of Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs

The prognosis of dogs surviving with Hemangiosarcoma, is very slim. I have searched the internet for answers ever since my dog Moebert died from this horrible disease. Hemangiosarcoma is a very aggressive type of cancer, very persistent and can rapidly spread elsewhere in the body to other tissues, especially liver, lungs, and the abdominal lining.  Hemangio(sarcoma) a blood-fed sarcoma; which means blood vessels grow directly into the tumor and it is usually filled with blood.

By the time you would see any “clinical signs” such as pale gums, cold to the touch (their body, mouth, and nose), labored breathing, abdominal swelling, just to name a few. it would probably be too late as it was with Moebert.

The sooner your veterinarian diagnosis and treats Canine Hemangiosarcoma the greater the chances of survival are, but unless they do blood work, x-rays and are looking for something specific they would never know either. How would you know that your dog might have a “Hemoabdomen” (which means free blood inside the abdominal cavity)? Sometimes the spleens will grow masses and they are normally either benign tumors which are (hemangiomas) or malignant tumors which are (hemangiosarcomas).

The treatment and the prognosis for a hemoabdomen depend entirely on the cause. Most often the cause of the bleeding has to be stopped surgically by removing the spleen. Or eventually the growth ruptures and the spleen bleeds. When a vascular organ like the spleen bleeds, the blood loss can be life-threatening resulting in a (hemoabdomen). Studies have shown that most bleeding tumors are more than likely to have been a hemangiosarcoma. There is a 50:50 chance that it could be either one the only way to know for sure is by doing a biopsy.

When the tumor on the spleen ruptures the dog usually hemorrhages profusely into their abdominal cavity which is usually very detectable to the veterinarian by the swelling of the abdomen. In my opinion it would still be too late to really be able to save your dog. Even if they could be stabilize which would involve taken Radiographs/x-rays and/or ultrasound, replacing the blood volumelost with IV fluids and blood transfusions and oxygen the outcome would be removal of the spleen but in many cases if it has metastasis; which means that is has spread elsewhere in the body and with that happening the prognosis becomes very poor. Remember Hemangiosarcoma is an aggressive cancer and that is the problem even with the removal of the spleen and tumor, the dog is probably spared death by bleeding to death but will probably eventually die from the cancer.

So what is the prognosis of Hemangiosarcoma in dogs?

In the long term if your dog is diagnosis with hemangiosarcoma their chances are slim to none. The survival time after a splenectomy is 3 weeks to 3 months, with chemotherapy it might increase the survival time to 5 to 7 months, only a few dogs have survived past a year. Of course the survival time may vary depending on the scale of disease, the aggressiveness and the follow up care. The follow up care normally includes monthly thoracic x-rays and physical exams which are necessary to watch for any reoccurrences of the cancer. Most dogs will probably die or be euthanized because of this metastatic disease. This type of cancer, sorry to say is fatal but if caught soon enough the dog’s life may be prolonged but to whose expense?…The answer is both you and your dogs.

If your dog is diagnosed with Canine Hemangosarcoma you will have to make some decisions which will be very hard to do to say the lease. First of all no one wants to do nothing to save their pet but what are you going to be putting your best friend through to do that, x-rays, blood test, surgery, pain only to have them surrender to cancer and die anyway. Should you consider their age and whether or not they have other health issues and what would their quality of life be like? Then you have to take in to consideration all the veterinarian bills that there would be to extend your dog’s life by only a month or three or maybe even days. This is not the kind of cancer you can cure with chemo (which can make your dog sick) if you get rid of the cancer from one place it has more than likely spread to somewhere else. The outcome is going to be the same.

Only you the owner can make this heart retching decision. No matter if you caught this disease in its early stages or not the prognosis is still going to be poor. I didn’t have to make any decisions; it seemed as if my dog Moebert made them for me. He never showed any signs that he was sick. It is true when they say that Hemangosarcoma is the “silent killer” because in most cases the cancer has already advanced before the dog owner would notice. Moebert did wait for me to get home from work so we both could say good-bye to one another; I know that on my heart.

Would I have put him through the surgery and everything else? If it would have saved his life and he would have been better and “cured”….you bet. He meant more to me than life.  I am so glad that I didn’t have to make a decision on whether to operate or even to consider euthanasia? Sometimes circumstances don’t give you time to ask questions and when you are so upset one wouldn’t be thinking straight anyway. I know I wasn’t, I probably would have done anything to keep Moe alive but it would not have been for his good it would have been for my own selfishness on not wanting to lose him and that would not have been right. I have never been so devastated over losing anything or anyone in my life as I am over my Moebert.

Love and hold your pet everyday and every chance you get because one never knows what could and can happen. You might not get another chance.

To You and Your Pets Health,