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Hemangiosarcoma is a rapidly growing, highly invasive variety of cancer. It is a blood-fed sarcoma; that is, blood vessels grow directly into the tumor and it is typically filled with blood. A frequent cause of death is the rupturing of this tumor, causing the victim to rapidly bleed to death.

The phrase "angiosarcoma", when used without modifier, usually refers to hemangiosarcoma. However, glomangiosarcoma (8710/3) and lymphangiosarcoma (9170/3) are distinct conditions.

Hemangiosarcoma in dogs

This cancer is somewhat common in dogs, and more so in certain breeds including German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. It occurs but is rare in cats. The dog often exhibits no symptoms until the tumor has become very large and has metastasized. Owners often discover that the dog has hemangiosarcoma when the dog collapses and dies.

The tumor most often appears on the spleen or the heart, although varieties also appear on the skin or in other locations. It is the most common tumor of the heart, and occurs in the right atrium. Here it can cause right-sided heart failure, arrhythmias, or pericardial effusion. Hemangiosarcoma of the spleen or liver is the most common tumor to cause hemorrhage in the abdomen. Hemangiosarcoma of the skin usually appears as a small red or bluish-black lump. It can also occur under the skin. It is suspected that in the skin, hemangiosarcoma is caused by sun exposure. Other the sites the tumor may occur include bone, the kidney, the bladder, muscle, the mouth, and the central nervous system.

Hemangiosarcoma can cause anemia, low platelet count, and disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). Symptoms of splenic hemangiosarcoma include loss of appetite, arrhythmias, weight loss, weakness, and lethargy. An enlarged abdomen is often seen due to hemorrhage or tumor growth. Metastasis is most commonly to the lungs, liver, or brain.

Treatment includes chemotherapy and, where practical, removal of the tumor with the affected organ, such as with a splenectomy. It is not clear how effective the treatment is; few if any studies have been done, although a study involving splenectomies and chemotherapy was underway on the east coast of the United States in 2003. Splenectomy alone gives an average survival time of two months.

Hemangiosarcoma on internal organs is usually fatal even with treatment, and usually within weeks or, at best, months. In the skin, it can be cured in most cases with complete surgical removal.


  • Ettinger, Stephen J.;Feldman, Edward C.(1995).Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine(4th ed.). W.B. Saunders Company. ISBN 0-7216-6795-3
  • Morrison, Wallace B. (1998). Cancer in Dogs and Cats (1st ed.). Williams and Wilkins. ISBN 0-683-06105-4

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