Cutaneous Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs

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Last updated on
3 min read

Key takeaways

Cutaneous hemangiosarcoma is cancer of the blood vessels of the skin. 

  • This type of tumor is generally fragile, blood-filled, and can be found anywhere on the skin
  • Tumors generally appear as small, round, purple or red masses with irritation around the affected area
  • Diagnostics include fine needle aspiration and tumor biopsy followed by diagnostic imaging to determine staging and evaluate for potential metastasis
  • Once cutaneous hemangiosarcoma is confirmed, treatment is primarily surgical removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue
  • Chemotherapy and radiation can be used to manage symptoms or metastasis as well as improve post-surgery quality of life
  • If caught early and completely removed, this cancer has an excellent prognosis
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A closer look: Cutaneous Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs

Tumors limited to the skin have an excellent prognosis following surgical removal, but tumors that extend into deeper subcutaneous tissue are more concerning.

Cutaneous hemangiosarcoma doesn’t usually spread to other organ systems, so there usually aren’t other symptoms.

UV-induced tumors usually present with multiple lesions.

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Risk factors

Cutaneous hemangiosarcoma is a common cancer type in dogs. It is not often metastatic, but can be aggressive and requires prompt intervention.

Possible causes

The cause of cutaneous hemangiosarcoma is not completely understood but it develops more frequently in older dogs as well as those with light skin. Cutaneous hemangiosarcoma is also potentially linked to UV sun exposure.

Main symptoms

The primary symptom is the presence of one or more masses on the skin, generally purple or red and in areas with little fur. The area around the tumor may have bruising, swelling, or bleeding.

Tumors most commonly arise on the hairless parts of the abdomen, prepuce, and feet.

Testing and diagnosis

After a physical examination and medical history, diagnostics to confirm cutaneous hemangiosarcoma include:

  • Fine needle aspiration
  • Tumor biopsy
  • Diagnostic imaging (determine metastasis)

Steps to Recovery

Once cutaneous hemangiosarcoma is confirmed, treatment is primarily surgical removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue. This can be followed by chemotherapy and radiation to improve symptoms and reduce risk of metastasis.

Hemangiosarcoma confined to the skin has an excellent prognosis if caught early and non-metastatic. UV-associated cutaneous hemangiosarcoma is usually not metastatic and surgery combined with radiation and chemotherapy can improve both life expectancy and quality of life.


Though the causes of the condition are not completely known, it can be prevented by limiting UV exposure, especially in dogs with light hair. Vigilant maintenance and monitoring of skin health is good for catching tumor formations earlier in progression which has a higher prognosis than later stage cancers.

Cutaneous hemangiosarcoma is not contagious.

Is Cutaneous Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs common?

This is a common skin cancer in dogs.

Typical Treatment

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation


Lauren Jones, VMD - Writing for PetMD
Wendy Brooks, DVM, DABVP - Writing for Veterinary Partner
H Ward, L E Fox, M B Calderwood-Mays, A S Hammer, C G Couto - Writing for Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Lauren Mingus - Writing for Colorado State University Animal Cancer Cener

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