Need help w/hemangio sarcoma (?) - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Need help w/hemangio sarcoma (?)

I just found this site this morning and thank you for such great info.
I took my 9 yr old (Zero) GSD to the vet yesterday because we found a hard lump in his abdomen. The vet took an xray and says he thinks it is hemangio sarcoma. At least I think that was the name. The next step is to get an ultrasound on Friday and then he says he may need to do surgery right then if it shows there is a "lump". Does this sound like normal procedure? Zero has been acting fine except we have noticed that he breathes a little faster than usual. He has not lost any appetite or anything else. After reading some things on the internet last night I'm getting pretty scared. I live in north Georgia area and don't know if there is anyone that is extremely knowledgeable on this.
Any help and info you can give would be very much appreciated.


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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 12:10 PM
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Re: Need help w/hemangio sarcoma (?)

My (then) 9 year old GSD just went through a scare like this. A lump was found on her...a needle aspirate was done...which came back hemangiosarcoma. At that point...she was sent to a specialist (surgeon) for removal and biopsy. We really felt we were in good hands...he knew how much to remove beyond the tumor to get wide margins, etc. Very knowledgeable. In our case...the biopsy came back negative. (I had a thread here on her whole story...if i can find it...I will post the link)

I have to tell you...if it had been positive...I already had a whole cancer fighting supplement regime in place set up by Marina Zacharias. If you are interested and need her contact info in the future...let me know. In terms of feeding...this is what she said:

"Think of her like a diabetic. Try to stay away from simple sugars such as corn potatoes pasta and sugar. Complex carbs are actually fine to give such oats or brown rice."

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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 12:20 PM
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Re: Need help w/hemangio sarcoma (?)

Too much experience with this here on the board. I think that there is some cancer info in our health sticky at the top of the board, and of course a bunch in the Cancer sticky at the top of the board.

Here is Bobo's recent thread:

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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 12:24 PM
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Re: Need help w/hemangio sarcoma (?)

Unfortuneatly, I know more about hemangio than I want to. Lucy had NO symptoms at all, was fine until a mass on her spleen ruptured and she needed emergency surgery. A biopsy showed it was hemangio, which, I'm sorry to say, has a dismal prognosis.

Hemangio can be a silent disease, Lucy was symptom free while it was growing, and even until the day she died, she felt fine except for some appetite issues from chemo.

It would be better if your dog had the mass removed and biopsied, it may not be hemangio. If it is not removed, it may burst, which can cause a life-threatening bleed and seed the abdomen with cancer, which grows fast.

If you get the mass out, it can increase survival time. Also, it gives the doc a chance to look around the abdomen for other possible tumors.

I opted to do chemo. I took Lucy to a top oncologist, but the protocols don't really differ from vet to vet much. I consulted with the head of oncology at U Penn and was told that adriamycin, aka doxorubicin, is the only drug proven to slow the spread of disease. Other drugs such as cytoxin and some others, have not been proven to increase the length of time.

HOWEVER, there is a school of thought that after 4-6 rounds of doxy, there can be what's called a metronomic protocol, which is low doses of oral chemo, which may include cytoxin.

It is a very, very hard and frightening diagnosis. I did the chemo and also did holistic care for Lucy to help her with chemo. Her quality of life was very, very good, lots of running on the beach and playing. her white cell counts stayed normal all through chemo as did her heart, which can be damaged by the doxy. Her appetite was challenging though and I ended up cooking for her and trying lots of food--chemo can make food taste bad to dogs.

I was hoping and praying for her to live six months, which is common for a dog getting chemo. She lived exactly three months destpite chemo. She had clean utlrasounds two days before she died. Ultrasounds don't always pick up on small lesions hiding around the liver.

It is a scary disease, I can't minimize that for you. THere is a GREAT support group on yahoo called the Sumner Foundation, where people post their treatments, holistic supplements, food ideas, concerns, fears, etc. It kept me going through some hard times. If you email me privately, I"ll send you the link.

If you choose to do chemo, I'd ask the vet if they are experienced in administering it--doxy can be tricky and the dog has to be sedated\--if they pull out the catheter in their leg, it can burn their skin.

I was advised by nearly every vet except the money-hungry oncologist NOT to do chemo. I did because I was playing the odds and wanted more time. It is a very aggressive cancer and even chemo can only extend lifespan for a few months.

On the Sumner group, there ARE some people whose dogs completely bucked the odds and lived over a year, almost two years. There are not many, but they are out there. That hope can mean a lot.

Hindsight is everything now, I Lucy's chemo did not extend her life much, if at all and I wish I had not done it. But had I not, I would have spent my life wondering what would have been.

I'm so, so sorry I don't have better news. Not every mass is hemangio, there are benign masses. A biopsy is the only way to tell.

If you pursue additional treatment, perhaps ask your vet if any vet nearby have any oncology experience and consider seeing that vet, or if he'd be willing to consult by phone with one.

If you need support, please feel free to email me privately throughout this. It's scary and you should not feel alone.

Prayers and good wishes being sent your way and for Zero.


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Zuzu--gsd DOB 4-21-09. Naughty n' nice

Lucy, Black GSD 2/1997-12-25-2008.
" T'was Heaven with you Here."

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Moon, WGSD. RIP , 12
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Need help w/hemangio sarcoma (?)

Thanks to all who have replied. I think I have read everything that I can to know that things don't look so great. We will be at the vets office on Friday morning and have the ultrasound and then go from there. I know that we will also do the removal at that time if it indeed shows what we feel it will. I just want to make sure that I do everything I can to keep him though I know if the worst case shows to be true it won't be long. This is my first GSD and has been the best I could have asked for. I will keep reading and learning and appreciate everything you folks can offer for advice and help.
Again thanks and I will stay tuned.

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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 02:25 PM
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Re: Need help w/hemangio sarcoma (?)

I hope and pray it's not hemangiosarcoma, it's a very nasty disease. You're very smart to do the ultrasound and biopsy.

I've never been lucky enough to catch it when there's still some time left. Maybe one day I'll learn to recognize symptoms, but so far I've done a miserable job.

All the Hooligans diagnosed with it were elderly, ranging in age from 9 years/11 months to 12 years/11 months. Echo, Ringer and Kelly were diagnosed with it in their hearts. It killed Echo within hours after I first noticed something was wrong and rushed him to the vet's office. Ringer & Kelly both had numerous health issues which affected their quality of life and would have been put down even if the hemangiosarcoma had not been found. Bo, my mutt, was diagnosed with it in his spleen - when they did the emergency surgery all his organs were riddled with cancer and he had to be put down.

Good luck with you pupper!!!

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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 02:45 PM
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Re: Need help w/hemangio sarcoma (?)

Unfortunately I am familiar with the disease, I lost two dogs to it. My shepherd mix Lady had metastases when she started bleeding and was too far gone for anything to be done. She was PTS three days after diagnosis. BoBo was strong and perfectly healthy all his life. He was running and playing until he collapes in February, he showed no symptoms until he started bleeding.

When BoBo collapsed in February and they saw the mass on the spleen, the options were hemangioma (benign) or hemangiosarcoma (very aggressive malignant). The only way to decide was to remove it and send it in for analysis. The results were back 5 days later and it was malignant. BoBo had no visible metastases on other organs and we opted for chemotherapy. The vets told me that without chemo the dogs are usually gone before the stitches are out. The prognosis was 3-6 months with chemo. I lost BoBo to two massive bleeds after exactly 4 months. I was hoping for 6, but the 4 months were definitely worth it to me. BoBo had an excellent quality of life during these 4 months and we were very happy. We did the chemo at the University of Pennsylvania and they did not offer any further options after 4 rounds of chemo. I had BoBo on different supplements too. Some (rare) dogs live long normal lives after the surgery, so it is possible.

His thread has a lot of useful information

I think it is important to do the surgery ASAP, before the tumor ruptures and bleeds. The chances of long term survival are much better in that case. I wish you best of luck with your boy and I will say a prayer that it is not hemangiosarcoma.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Need help w/hemangio sarcoma (?)

Thanks again everyone,

I guess we will be on pins and needles until Friday. I just never realized this sort of thing existed. Not very up to speed on until yesterday and today. I will learn as much as possible. This has been a miserable 25 hrs so far since we found out about it.

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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 04:08 PM
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Re: Need help w/hemangio sarcoma (?)

On your other list have they looked at the outcomes for dogs who had it removed pre-rupture versus post rupture? It seems like so many owners only find out about this when a splenic tumor ruptures and the dog goes in for emergency surgery. My parents' dog had it and was totally asymptomatic but by lucky happinstance the vet noticed an abdominal mass as they were lifting him to the table for a dental. They ended up doing emergency surgery and getting the whole mass out intact. He then went through similar chemo regime to your dog - I know she mentioned the adriamycin, I think they also did cytoxin. Happily he lived quite a bit longer and never had any further recurrence of that cancer although he later died of lymphoma. My mom was saying she thought his success was probably due to the fact that the tumor hadn't ruptured and therefore hadn't spread cancer cells throughout his abdomen the way it would have if he'd had a bleed. Don't know if the research supports that theory or not.

The frequency (and stealth) of this particular tumor makes me wonder if it's worth doing routine scans or ultrasounds on senior dogs in an attempt to catch it in time. Grace is 9 years old and it's an idea I've been considering. Not sure how much they can tell or not.

To the OP - good luck with your pup! Hopefully even if it is HS, the early treatment will improve his prognosis.

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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 04:15 PM
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Re: Need help w/hemangio sarcoma (?)

I hope it is something else. I will send some good thoughts your way!

I lost my boy Basu to hemangiosarcoma after the splenic tumor had bled out. He was a few months short of 11. Same thing with my Massie, although she had lived a good, long life and had multiple health problems in the end.

Appreciate each day you have with him--their lives are far too short, that's for sure.

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