How Long Can a Dog Live With Hemangiosarcoma?

Hemangiosarcoma symptoms tend to emerge quickly, prompting a medical emergency in dogs. Dogs may present at their veterinarian’s office suddenly collapsed with pale gums due to massive internal bleeding from a ruptured hemangiosarcoma tumor.

Hemangiosarcoma has an extremely poor prognosis; survival rates remain extremely short even with surgery and chemotherapy treatments. There are no preventive or screening tests available; early diagnosis and treatment are the best methods.


Hemangiosarcoma cancer in dogs typically develops in blood vessels of the spleen and right heart base, and often shows few symptoms. Affected pets may experience short episodes of weakness that are easy to overlook; abnormalities detected through blood work or X-ray tests don’t always lead to an accurate diagnosis; because cancer develops and spreads so quickly, early diagnosis can often prove challenging.

Once hemangiosarcoma has spread to other organs, the prognosis for treatment with surgery and chemotherapy becomes poor. Hemangiosarcoma is an aggressive form of cancer which forms in blood vessels and tends to grow quickly and bleed freely; creating masses which engulf vital organs such as liver and lungs and may lead to internal bleeding that leads to death.

Hemangiosarcoma tumors may be painful, yet difficult to diagnose. Since they often bleed spontaneously and cause internal hemorrhaging, they may be mistakenly identified as other medical issues like an ulcer. Furthermore, they can lead to bloody stool or swelling around the abdomen which are generally mild in duration and disappear quickly.

Early diagnosis can increase survival times through surgery and chemotherapy treatments.

But most cases of hemangiosarcoma do not progress to the stage where surgery can be conducted – Case Manhattan, owned by Morris Animal Foundation donor Krista Dieckamp and named after Chase Manhattan himself doesn’t even make it as far as being taken to surgery!

Hemangiosarcoma patients may find some relief in knowing that without surgery, their survival time should average at least three months; with surgery increasing survival times to more than one year.

Unfortunately, most dogs with hemangiosarcoma develop metastatic nodules in their liver or lungs and succumb to it, ultimately succumbing to death from it. Visceral hemangiosarcoma occurs in 2-4% of all reported cases and its spread may be due to cells producing growth factors which promote blood vessel formation – perhaps coercing other cells to do so too – so scientists are working on drugs which interfere with these growth factors to slow disease progression and stop it altogether.


An unexpected cancer diagnosis can be devastating for dog owners, particularly when the prognosis is poor. Knowing what to expect can help make informed decisions regarding your pet’s care – this is especially true with rare forms like Hemangiosarcoma that affect blood vessels and can be found in their spleen, liver, heart or skin lining. Hemangiosarcoma tumors spread quickly – on average the life expectancy for these dogs without treatment is three to six months; chemotherapy treatment may extend this timeline further.

Hemangiosarcoma is generally diagnosed when either the spleen and/or liver become enlarged due to mass growth. Your veterinarian can often detect this enlargement during a physical exam, or when listening to your heart and lungs during routine checks. If the mass grows quickly, surgery may be required as well as tests for cells of Hemangiosarcoma in your liver and blood to ensure all instances have been eliminated.

X-rays of the chest and ultrasound of the abdomen can often detect cases of hemangiosarcoma; however, more in-depth testing is often necessary for diagnosis; such testing typically includes blood work evaluation to measure red and white blood cell counts, clotting ability, organ functions, etc.

Hemangiosarcoma in dogs that affects either their liver or spleen typically causes weakness, excessive panting and refusal to eat. If it ruptures and leads to internal bleeding, your dog could collapse and even die; if it spreads to their lungs your pet will cough with difficulty breathing and have difficulty breathing.

Hemangiosarcoma treatment requires surgery and chemotherapy. A standard chemotherapy drug known as doxorubicin releases free radicals into your dog’s system that damage healthy cells while starving cancerous ones of oxygen and nutrients needed to survive, thus prompting their death. For added effectiveness, giving them foods high in antioxidants could also counteract this drug and prolong their lives.

Yunnan Baiyao

Hemangiosarcomas are tumors made up of blood vessel-lining cells. While they can develop anywhere in the body, they most frequently occur in spleen, liver, skin and heart tissue. Hemangiosarcomas can grow aggressively as they expand, invading nearby body cavities like chest or abdomen areas and rupture. Hemangiosarcomas can spread throughout via lymphatic tissue networks as well.

Hemangiosarcoma can be an extremely challenging condition to treat in dogs. Although surgery to shrink or remove the primary tumor is sometimes successful in relieving symptoms, additional chemotherapy treatments may still be needed for any recurrences of cancer; unfortunately however, prognosis remains poor among animals with cardiac or liver-based hemangiosarcoma or those diagnosed with splenic hemangiosarcoma.

Splenic hemangiosarcoma can be difficult to diagnose in dogs. Most often, veterinarians detect enlarged spleens via abdominal ultrasound imaging and biopsy them to confirm diagnosis. Without treatment such as surgery and chemotherapy, average survival for these pets ranges between two weeks to three months; when combined, their prognosis dramatically improves.

Hemangiosarcomas of the liver and heart can be difficult to treat, making diagnosis important. A mass could be a hemangiosarcoma; one in the heart can lead to arrhythmias that could prove fatal for dogs while ones in spleen can form blood clots that threaten life-saving organ function.

Whenever hemangiosarcoma spreads to the lungs, radiographs and ultrasound will be taken of both liver and spleen to assess how much disease there is present. Your veterinarian may also conduct a complete blood count (CBC) and coagulation profile to check for severe anemia as well as evaluate clotting ability, while administering fluids if necessary and monitoring blood pressure and bloodwork to make sure that the spleen doesn’t collapse under its own weight.

Yunnan Baiyao is a well-known herbal formula in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), often recommended to help emergency situations involving Hemangiosarcoma patients. Containing herbs such as notoginseng and ox gall bladder, Yunnan Baiyao helps enhance platelets and clotting mechanisms to stop bleeding more effectively and is thus often chosen.

Supportive Care

Hemangiosarcoma is a malignant tumor formed of blood cells and vessels. Its rapid spread (metastasis) makes its prognosis very dismal, particularly when it affects organs such as the spleen or liver; when ruptured, bleeding is profuse enough to lead to fatality for many dogs; cardiac arrest could occur from growth within the heart and its tumor could even result in cardiac arrest resulting in death for some pets; although incidence on skin has slightly better prognosis but is incurable;

Surgery is the key component in treating hemangiosarcoma, with surgery typically leading to an average three to nine-month survival rate depending on where the tumor lies. Without surgery and having lung-based cancer spread more rapidly, survival rates drop drastically.

Once the primary tumor has been surgically removed, chemotherapy treatment begins. Hemangiosarcoma patients are usually administered oral doxorubicin for 5 treatments: usually 2-3 every other week until all five treatments have been administered. Dexamethasone may also be used to control swelling and inflammation associated with hemangiosarcoma.

Hemangiosarcoma-affected dogs frequently experience severe anemia and require regular blood transfusions. Additionally, Yunnan Baiyao herbal supplement should be taken twice a day in order to help prevent additional bleeding events from occurring.

Hemangiosarcoma affects dogs of all ages and breeds. However, it’s most prevalent among older animals and breeds predisposed to developing it like golden retrievers, German shepherds, Portuguese water dogs, flat-coated retrievers, Boxers and Bernese mountain dogs. Spaying or neutering may increase its likelihood, too. Research into new treatments and prevention options for this condition is still being explored – in the meantime pet owners can reduce the risk by keeping their pup out of direct sunlight when possible and using broad spectrum sunscreen when outside.

Lisa Thompson

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