Treatment

The effectiveness of various treatment options will depend on several factors, including the primary location of the tumor and whether or not the cancer has metastasized. You should also consider how your dog's quality of life may change given various treatments. Always consult a licensed veterinarian when deciding on a treatment path. This page is merely a collection of information obtained from various research articles and websites, and should not be treated as medical advice.


Standard Therapy

The standard therapies listed below are usually recommended, regardless of which stage the cancer is determined to be in.

Surgery

Surgery is considered standard therapy, and may be recommended depending on the site of the tumor, and if the cancer has not metastasized. According to Dr. Modiano at the University of Minnesota, "Median survival for dogs treated with surgery alone is approximately 90 days". The median survival time increases to ~180 days if surgery is paired with chemotherapy. Below, we have included some information about what types of surgery may be recommended, organized by tumor site.

Skin: Surgical removal of a skin tumor may greatly improve prognosis if the cancer has not metastasized.

Spleen: In cases where the primary tumor is located on the spleen, your veterinarian may recommend surgically removing the entire spleen (this procedure is called a splenectomy). 

Liver: If the tumor is attached to the liver, your vet may recommend surgically removing the mass from the liver.

Heart: Surgery may not be an option if a tumor is found in the heart (usually the right atrium). However, if your dog suffers from something called pericardial effusion (a condition in which fluid builds up in the sac surrounding the heart, sometimes caused by a bleeding tumor), a palliative procedure may be recommended. Depending on the rate at which this fluid builds up, your veterinarian may wish to perform a pericardiectomy. This is a serious, and high-risk procedure that involves removing the sac (pericardium) from around the heart. This procedure is meant to treat the symptoms caused by a bleeding tumor, and it's important to discuss the risks, and also the quality of life for your dog when considering this option. 

 

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be recommended either independently, or in conjunction with, a surgical treatment. Different chemotherapeutic agents may be used, with doxorubicin (DOX) being one of the more commonly used drugs. 

A notable advancement in chemotherapy treatment was made in early 2017. A drug named eBAT, which was invented at the University of Minnesota, was shown to improve "6-month survival from <40% in a comparison population to approximately 70%". At the time of this writing, eBAT isn't commercially available, and the University of Minnesota has indicated that they do not know when it will be available. However, we will update this page as soon as we hear otherwise.

 

Alternative Medicine

The standard treatment for hemangiosarcoma is tumor removal through surgery, and chemotherapy. The therapies listed in this section should be considered experimental.

Coriolus versicolor mushroom

A study at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that a compound called PSP (polysaccharopeptide), in the coriolus versicolor mushroom (also called the Yunzhi or cloud mushroom), may also be effective in fighting tumors. Dogs with splenic hemangiosarcoma were treated with various doses of I'm-Yunity (which is a brandname extract of this mushroom), and exhibited much higher median survival times (117-199 days) than had been previously recorded (19-86 days for dogs without the treatment).

I'm Yunity has also been used by some pet owners in post-treatment plans (e.g. after surgery and/or chemo is received). A good example of this can be seen on a website called hemangiosarcoma.dog, which contains a detailed account of one dog's journey with hemangiosarcoma, and her post-chemo treatment plan.