Hemangiosarcoma is an aggressive cancer of the blood vessels. Hemangiosarcoma tumors can develop anywhere in the body as the cancer cells collect in different blood vessels.
Symptoms of hemangiosarcoma often go undetected until severe internal bleeding occurs. Sudden death may be the only apparent symptom. Prognosis is poor and in a best-case scenario treatment extends life expectancy by approximately 3 months.
Hemangiosarcoma is a rare form of tumor in cats. The underlying disease process is not well understood so it is difficult to identify individual risk factors. This form of cancer is seen more frequently in older cats and those with short hair.
The cause of this cancer is unknown. It originates in the bone marrow as these cells develop to create new blood vessels. As with all forms of cancer, environmental and genetic risk factors are likely.
The primary symptom is tumor formation within the body which is fragile and blood filled. Symptoms are rarely caught prior to the tumor bursting.
After a physical examination and medical history, diagnostic imaging and biopsy confirm diagnosis of hemangiosarcoma.
Once a visceral hemangiosarcoma is confirmed, treatment prioritizes stabilization. If a rupture has occurred, the bleeding must be addressed and symptom management including IV fluids and blood transfusions are necessary.
To treat the sarcoma, the main option is surgery, either removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue or full removal of the organ where possible. In many cases, euthanasia is recommended during surgery due to the severity of disease. Surgery may be followed by chemotherapy (especially in cases of metastasis) to attempt to reduce the spread and lower the risk of recurrence.
The prognosis for visceral hemangiosarcoma is very poor. It is highly metastatic and is usually caught only after a tumor ruptures. Treatment may extend life expectancy by a few months but is mostly palliative.
It is not currently known what causes internal hemangiosarcomas and therefore prevention is difficult. Monitoring of overall pet health and signs of abdominal distress and internal bleeding are always beneficial.
Visceral hemangiosarcoma is not contagious.
Visceral hemangiosarcoma is rare in cats.