Understanding and Successfully Treating Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs
Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is a type of cancer that develops in the lining of the blood vessels (endothelium), which makes it prone to metastasize and spread through the bloodstream rapidly. All forms of hemangiosarcoma are potentially fatal, but some more serious than others.
Malignant Hemangiosarcoma is considered one of the most aggressive types of cancers found in dogs. Remission is rare, but has been achieved by some, (myself included). The key to successfully treating this type of cancer is understanding its characteristics and addressing the underlying factors that contribute to its development.
Cases of hemangiosarcoma are rarely found in humans, therefore there is little research done on this particular type of cancer. Because of it’s ability metastasize rapidly spread, it often reaches a critical stage by the time it’s detected.
Hemangiosarcoma tumors on or under the skin can often be safely removed, but can also quickly metastasize and turn extremely fatal.
Below are the 3 main types of Hemangiosarcoma found in dogs:
Considered the least serious, this is a type of skin cancer is commonly found in areas with little fur or light colored fur and is often associated with sun exposure. Surgical removal of these tumors can alone be a successful treatment if clean margins are obtained. If clean margins are not accomplished and some of the cancerous tissue is missed, then these will most likely return in a relatively short amount of time.
Black Salve (a drawing compound) can also be affective in eliminating these type of tumors often drawing out the cancerous tissue. I’ve had first hand experience with this compound and was amazed with the results. That said, it’s a powerful compound and should be used with caution. Occasionally the cancerous area is larger than expected which can lead to a large area of tissue falling away, which may lead to complications.
These tumors develop just below the skin, often not affecting the skin itself at all. This type of hemangiosarcoma it more serious and has a higher percentage of metastasis (around 60%). Surgical removal of the tumors can be performed though it is more difficult to determine if all the cancerous tissue is removed.
These types of tumors commonly develop on the heart and spleen. They are generally malignant with a high rate of metastasis.
This is the most severe type of hemangiosarcoma and the average prognosis is only 6-9 months, even with some of the best conventional treatments.
Hemangiosarcoma is more commonly found in older larger breeds, but in recent years there’s been a rise in younger dogs as well.
Main Causes for Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs
Skin or dermal forms of hemangiosarcoma are commonly associated with sun exposure and often occurs in areas with little or light colored fur.
It’s a bit uncertain as to what causes other types of hemangiosarcoma, but it’s commonly suspected that there are multiple contributing factors such as diet, exposure to chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides that ultimately challenge the immune system, and open the door to develope disease.
Skin forms hemangiosarcomas are diagnosed with a surgical biopsy. This can sometimes take a few days as the samples are often sent to a specialist for an accurate analysis.
For internal forms of hemangiosarcoma, a thorough physical examination of the abdominal cavity and blood test is often the first step in the diagnosis. From there, an x-ray or ultrasound can be performed to inspect the areas and organs suspected of be affected which are commonly the liver and spleen.
If the lungs or heart are suspected to be affected, then a radiography or echocardiography may be used to obtain additional imaging. X Rays can be used, but often don’t supply a highly accurate image the disease.
Once tumors are located, an assessment of the ability to successfully obtain a biopsy is determined. Often this can be difficult due to the location of the tumor as well as nature of these type of tumors, which are highly susceptible to severe hemorrhaging. If possible, a biopsy or removal of the tumor may be performed in order to conclusively determine the type of cancer.
Because Hemangiosarcoma tumors occur in the blood vessels and fill up with blood, the risk of the tumor rupturing and causing severe hemorrhaging is a concern.
Dermal forms of hemangiosarcoma in dogs can often be treated with successful outcomes, however visceral hemangiosarcoma is a much more serious with a poor prognosis. Remission is rare and because of the rapid rate of metastasis, life expectancy is generally about 3 months at the time of diagnosis.
Chemotherapy can be used to slow the cancerous growth, but this is only used to extend the survival a matter of months.
Remission is rare with hemangiosarcoma, but it is possible. A full spectrum approach combining conventional and holistic treatments may offer the highest chance of long term remission. The overall health of the dog, when it’s detected, and what organs are affected are all factors in hoe treatable the disease is.
Hemangiosarcoma Symptoms in Dogs
Hemangiosarcoma tumors commonly develop in internal organs and give few warning signs or symptoms until serious health conditions arise in that organ. Below are a few of the more common symptoms.
- Sudden low energy spells
- Signs of depression
- Pale color in gums
Dermal Hemangiosarcoma can often be seen or felt under the skin.
Black Salve is a powerful drawing compound that can remove Dermal often sub dermal forms of hemangiosarcoma tumors. Caution is advised as it can extract the entire cancerous area at once, and areas of disease can sometimes be much larger than expected.
Constructing a powerful canine cancer diet treatment with herbs such as essiac tea can help with combat cancer cells while boosting immune functions.
Conventional Treatments for Dogs With Hemangiosarcoma
For dermal types of hemangiosarcoma, surgical removal is often an easy and somewhat successful procedure. Determining and removing the entire cancerous area can be challenging and it’s not uncommon for tumors to reappear in the same spot.
With most other types of hemangiosarcoma, conventional approaches by themselves offer little to no chance of long term success, and more often only serve to extend life a short while.
Commonly, the current conventional protocol is surgical removal of the tumor and as much diseased tissue as possible, followed by administering chemotherapy treatments to slow the tumor’s regrowth. This expensive and invasive procedure is still the protocol even when no real chance of remission is expected.
Chemotherapy agents such as doxorubicin, (DOX) are administered intravenously about every 3 weeks. Other chemo combinations such as vincristine, cyclophosphamide and methotrexate used are sometimes used, but they have yet to produce worthwhile results.
If the tumor is located in the spleen of liver and has not metastasized to other organs, than removing the entire spleen or part of the liver may be an option that offers long term success, but this is rare, as it usually has spread beyond the point of complete surgical removal by the time of detection.
Conventional medicine has undergone some amazing advancements in recent years, however it does have it’s limitations, especially when it comes to promoting health and treating certain diseases. As with hemangiosarcoma, the approaches such as chemo, radiation and surgery only deal with the tumor itself and fail to address the underlying issue.
Successfully Treating Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs
Holistic Veterinarians and health practitioners seem to have a little better understanding of the philosophy of “treating the patient” not just the disease. They tend take into account the unique circumstances of that particular dog, as well as what’s leading to the illness or disease.
A tumor or any disease is the result of an underlying issue (the cause). That issue needs to be addressed in order achieve and maintain remission. This along with promoting the body’s ability to heal itself, are the main aspects of holistic approaches.
It’s important to understand that many conventional treatments do have some undeniable benefits, but they also have their limitations. To fully realize their potential, they must combined with a holistic approach that promotes health as well. Otherwise, the initial cause and the bodies ability to heal itself are constantly working against the treatment.
The body has a remarkable ability to heal itself. In fact, it’s only the body and the immune system that can heal itself. This fundamental aspect of nature must be recognized and honored by promoting its ability to heal. Only then do we have the highest chance at attaining and maintaining remission.
The proper diet with powerful immune boosting herbs and cancer fighting supplements offer the best to address and alleviate the underlying causes, while promoting cell recovery.
Just as the improper diet can cause complications that lead to disease, a holistic cancer diet treatment can work to help reverse those issues.There has been some cases where hemangiosarcoma has been slowed down and even gone into remission with holistic treatments alone. As with many types of cancer, it’s hard to find a case of a dog beating the odds, where diet wasn’t a main component.
Malignant Hemangiosarcoma is serious, however it’s also treatable regardless of what common conventional outcomes alone offer. I know first hand from my own dog Henry beating the odds with it. You can read a little about Henry’s story here.
Is it a Case of Faulty Genes?
In the vast majority of cases, absolutely not. Some breeds do have a disposition to certain illnesses, and hemangiosarcoma is more common in larger male dogs such as Boxers, Great Danes, Pitbulls, German Shepherds, English Setters and, Golden Retrievers.
However, it’s important to understand that predisposed does not mean predetermined! More often, it’s only when the immune system is challenged and it’s function compromised, that these “weak links” are exploited and disease occurs.
For cancer, or any disease to develop, an immune system dysfunction must be present. So by addressing this area, we can greatly reduce illness regardless of what genetic challenges a certain breed may have. There are many breeds with the same genetic dispositions that live go on to live long and healthy lives.
Genes are merely blueprints, and it’s how well these these blueprints are properly built upon and maintained that often makes the determining factor between health and disease.
External factors such as dietary complications and toxins are a main factor in affecting the digestive tract, which is directly linked to the immune system.
When the digestive tract is challenge with improper diet and toxins, excessive energy is then wasted on dealing with these challenges. This intern can create an immune system dysfunction, allowing cells to be altered and cancer to develop and spread.