Canine Spleen Cancer Prognosis

Canine spleen cancer occurs when a hemangiosarcoma, or cancerous tumor that forms in a blood vessel, grows in your dog's spleen. Canine spleen cancer can be difficult to treat, and the prognosis is often poor. Let's learn more about this difficult-to-treat cancer.

Function of the Canine Spleen

Your dog's spleen is a very important, but very vulnerable, organ. The spleen helps refresh your dog's blood by removing old blood cells from the bloodstream. Your dog can live without his spleen, however.

Spleen Cancer in Dogs

Spleen tumors in dogs can be either benign or malignant, though both types of tumors are dangerous, because they could rupture at a moment's notice. Ruptured spleen tumors typically cause severe bleeding and rapid death, due to blood-filled nature of the spleen itself.

When spleen tumors are cancerous, they are usually hemangiosarcomas. These aggressive tumors grow in blood vessels, and they're usually filled with blood. That's why, when they burst, dangerous bleeding can result.

Spleen cancer can spread rapidly to other parts of the body. It's often in its advanced stages by the time of diagnosis, making it difficult to treat and cure. Spleen cancer is most common in dogs older than nine years of age, and German Shepherds appear more prone to this condition than other breeds.

Symptoms of Canine Spleen Cancer

Spleen cancer in dogs often produces no symptoms at all until the tumor ruptures and the dogs begins to experience serious internal bleeding. Your dog's gums may appear pale, and he may seem to be physically weak. This weakness can be so severe as to lead to collapse.

Treating Spleen Cancer in Dogs

Spleen cancer in dogs is difficult to identify before the tumor bursts, since it causes few symptoms or no symptoms at all until this point. Once the tumor has ruptured, the spleen must be removed. Removal of the spleen stops the internal bleeding, but does little to extend your dog's life. By the time tumor rupture has occurred and a diagnosis made, spleen cancer has usually spread to other parts of the body.

Your vet may choose to administer chemotherapy after he removes your dog's spleen. If, somehow, your dog is diagnosed with spleen cancer before the tumor ruptures, your dog may be able to keep his spleen and undergo chemotherapy. However, most vets prefer to remove the spleen to avoid tumor rupture, since tumor rupture can kill your dog almost instantly.

Prognosis for Canine Spleen Cancer

Without chemotherapy, your dog's spleen cancer prognosis will be very poor indeed. You may expect your dog to survive for two weeks to two months after spleen removal. If your dog receives chemotherapy after spleen removal, he may live for up to six months after diagnosis.

Diagnosing canine spleen cancer in its early stages is crucial to a better prognosis. Get your dog regular veterinary check ups to find and treat spleen cancer, and other health problems, before it's too late.