Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs with Dr. Jamie Modiano
Hemangiosarcoma is a deadly and fast moving insidious blood cancer in dogs. On my national Steve Dale’s Pet World radio show, it’s my honor to speak with Dr. Jaime Modiano, Perlman Professor of Oncology and Comparative Medicine and Director Animal Cancer Care and Research Program, College of Veterinary Medicine and Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Modiano, who is world renown for his work in this area, explains what hemangiosarcoma is and how to observe it’s happening in your dog. By the time pet parents can identify something is wrong, most often it’s too late.
Sadly, what can be done today upon a diagnosis may be nothing at all as so many dogs die literally hours after the cancer is discovered or surgery and treatment may extend life for a fairly short period of time. We’re talking months, usually under 12 months. Exceptional dogs may live with this cancer over a year.
In November of 2019, our dog Ethel, then 15 years old, was walking weakly. With a history of back issues, we gave her pain relief. And she simply laid down and rested for a few hours. I didn’t think anything of it. When my wife and niece arrived home from a shopping trip, Ethel got up to greet them and toppled over.
The emergency clinic quickly figured it out, hemangiosarcoma impacting her spleen. Removing her spleen could buy her time, but in this case she was already bleeding out. The cancer doc suggested “it doesn’t look good.” In fact, we had to race to euthanize before she bled out. Nothing could be done unless we caught the cancer earlier through imaging. But you don’t routinely image a dog or for that matter a person without a purpose. And as Dr. Modiano explains, for most dogs, even with surgery and treatment you don’t buy all that much time, not to mention the cost of the surgery (both the cost of the dog undergoing the surgery and financial cost). The Morris Animal Foundation and others, including Dr. Modiano are working on this – as sadly hemangiosarcoma is common, and some suggest increasingly common.