Hemangiosarcoma – The Silent Killer

Jul 18, 2014 @ 10:31 AM — by Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital
Tagged with: Health Alert Canine


If yes, your pet’s breed is over represented by those who suffer from Hemangiosarcoma – the silent killer. . .

Hemangiosarcoma is a cancer that often shows up suddenly and unexpectedly without any provocation.  It is a malignant tumor of blood vessels and is found most often in the spleen which is located inside of the abdomen, out of view. It also invades the liver with some frequency and has been found in a number of other tissues including the skin. Tumors in the skin are often easy to detect. Tumors in the abdomen are not! This tumor often goes undetected until it ruptures and a pet begins to bleed to death into the abdomen, which is also undetected until the abdomen becomes distended with blood. While a pet may be acting normally one day, the next day the pet may be found lying prone, weak, breathing hard, with very pale gums as a result of blood loss. If we act quickly, surgery may save a life by removing the spleen, possibly avoiding a common scenario where the patient dies 3-6 months later of metastasis. In one study it was demonstrated that 70% of dogs with splenic masses presented with a blood filled abdomen and no history of trauma. A much better way to deal with this hidden threat from Hemangiosarcoma is to detect it early and remove the spleen before the tumor ruptures or has time to spread. Ultrasound is a safe, painless, and effective tool to find this tumor in the spleen and liver in the earliest stages when our chances of a successful outcome are the greatest.

Hemangiosarcoma is seen mostly in middle aged dogs. As such, a yearly spleen/liver ultrasound for dogs over 5 years of age should create a distinct advantage in our attempt to detect this tumor in the earliest stages when we have the best chance of prolonging the healthy lives of our pets. 

Our doctors have advanced training in ultrasound technology and can perform a thorough ultrasound examination of the spleen and liver on an outpatient basis. Do not be among the many who say, "I wish I had known there was a way to detect the tumor earlier”. Help prevent the need for crisis surgery by practicing preventative medicine. 

If you have one of these breeds, please call to schedule an ultrasound.

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