Like any cancer, the mere mention of the ‘C’ word, cancer strikes terror, fear in humans.
Dogs are no exceptions; the fear is still there for the owners.
No one likes it when their loved ones are sick, even if they said loved ones are a “dog.”
So… The question that is on your mind right now is when to euthanize a dog with Hemangiosarcoma?.
We’re pretty sure that you must ask yourself, should you euthanize your dog with hemangiosarcoma?.
Allow us to be your guide on this path of enlightenment.
What Is hemangiosarcoma?
Hemangiosarcoma is often referred to as cancer of the blood vessel walls or the endothelial cells, the cells that line blood vessels.
It accounts for 5-7% of all canine cancer cases.
What causes Hemangiosarcoma?
Though the primary causes of this cancer are not known yet, the risk factors were being deduced, which includes:
- Ultraviolet light exposer
- Abnormal gene expression
- Abnormal development of new blood vessels
When to euthanize a dog with hemangiosarcoma?
Strangely enough, one wouldn’t know when one’s dog has hemangiosarcoma until it reaches the very aggressive and advanced stage.
Canine HSA, which is another name for hemangiosarcoma, is resistant to classic cancer treatment.
It should be noted that hemangiosarcoma has varieties that may play a huge factor in deciding when to euthanize the dog.
Varieties of Hemangiosarcoma
Their severities include:
1. Dermal Hemangiosarcoma
it’s more class of cancer; it occurs as red or black skin growth.
Though it could be treated and cured with surgery — removal of tissues affected with the cancer growth.
2. Subcutaneous Hemangiosarcoma
It occurs the latter below the skin, called the subcutaneous or hypodermis.
This class is more advanced and aggressive than the Dermal Hemangiosarcoma.
3. Visceral Hemangiosarcoma
This class affects the internal organs.
It is the most advanced and the most common appearance of this aggressive cancer — no treatment, even surgery, and whatnot.
Primary sites of Hemangiosarcoma
It includes the following
- Heart (right atrium)
- Subcutaneous tissue/ hypodermis
It could occur anywhere there is a blood vessel.
What breeds of dogs are at risk
- Golden retrievers
- Labrador retrievers
- German Shepherd
- English settlers
- Doberman Pinschers
- Great Danes
- Basset hounds
Ages of dogs at risk of Hemangiosarcoma
It’s worth knowing that Hemangiosarcoma could affect dogs of any age, but it usually affects middle age or older dogs (6 years).
How do I know my dog has Hemangiosarcoma?
There are tell signs to know if your dog has Hemangiosarcoma.
But also keep in mind that not all cases show the sign.
Some of these signs are:
- Lack of appetite and reduction of weight
- Constant vomiting
- Frequent diarrhea
- An abnormal increase in stomach
- Constant weakness, tiredness.
- Scars on the stomach
- White gums
- Strange weakness that comes and goes
- Heavy breathing
Diagnosis of Hemangiosarcoma
Some cases may show signs, while sometimes there are no tell-signs.
The veterinary doctor usually diagnoses Hemangiosarcoma.
Vets using ultrasounds like abdominal ultrasound and radiographs.
The vets will investigate heart, liver, and spleen tumors.
X-rays will show if cancer has gone further to the lungs.
A biopsy will affirm if there the masses are Hemangiosarcoma.
What makes Hemangiosarcoma deadly and extremely dangerous?
Firstly, one needs to consider how the cancerous cells’ level of growth.
Before you know it — the cancerous cells had already metastasized rapidly.
Secondly, it’s difficult to diagnose Hemangiosarcoma because the symptoms only appear in advanced stages.
Most dogs are diagnosed only when a tumor ruptures; by then, it is far too late.
And also, there’s severe internal bleeding.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been innovation in screening tests for the early diagnosis of Hemangiosarcoma.
Hemangiosarcoma is commonly detected at its advanced and aggressive stage.
Making hard or strongly resistant to treatments.
Treatment choices like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy could make a difference, especially if cancer is detected and diagnosed early.
Surgery is commonly the best treatment for Hemangiosarcoma.
Though sometimes, surgery alone is ideal when treating dermal Hemangiosarcoma.
It is known that superficial dermal Hemangiosarcoma is cured after surgery.
But not all cases—there are cases when new tumors appear in some other areas of the dog’s body.
For dermal Hemangiosarcoma, the surgery sites are spread over a large area because it is essential to cut away all affected tissues.
Hemangiosarcoma affecting the heart, surgery is not advised.
Because heart surgery (cardiac surgery) is difficult and costs a lot, surgery for vascular (vessels carrying blood) tumors is also harder to perform.
Surgery alone is the ideal treatment for splenic tumors.
The specialist advised the removal of the spleen.
Reason being that no one can know ahead of time if the tumor is benign or malignant.
50% of splenic tumors are non-threatening.
Even at that, these tumors are also deadly.
Because the spleen is vascular, it can lead to serious bleeding internally whenever the splenic tumors burst.
Disadvantages — In as much as surgery could be a dog’s ideal bet against Hemangiosarcoma— giving them the highest chance of survival time.
Unfortunately, the risks are high too, like severe internal bleeding during surgery.
Plus, the fact that there are dogs in advanced stages may put them in a compromised situation.
Also, there’s a chance of complications like cardiac arrhythmias after surgery.
Chemotherapy is done immediately after the surgery for these sites:
Beneath the skin or in the muscle.
Chemotherapy is the ideal option for Hemangiosarcoma in the heart because surgery is complicated to do, especially cardiac surgery.
As Hemangiosarcoma grows in size, chemotherapy works as an additional treatment to surgery, especially when there is incomplete surgical removal of the tumor.
The following drugs are usually used in chemotherapy:
Note: Chemotherapy slows the growth of the cancerous cells— giving the dog a good quality of life.
Radiotherapy (RT) uses radiation to destroy cancerous cells.
It is advised to use especially in the early stages of cancer.
The great thing about RT is that it’s a focused treatment because it is targeted at the area where it needs treatment.
Unfortunately, RT’s use for treating Hemangiosarcoma can’t be emphasized.
Reasons being — the tumor cells grow rapidly.
RT is not ideal for some sites where tumors grow.
Also, it does not reach all parts of the body.
RT can be used alone or in addition to other treatments.
Having a dog with Hemangiosarcoma can be emotionally draining.
But with the right advice from a specialist, one makes the right decision.
It is essential to always monitor your dog for clues and signs of Hemangiosarcoma for early diagnosis and treatment.