Odds Improve for Dogs with Hemangiosarcoma

Photo Credit: Flicker CC, gronga, cottage cheeseA new drug developed at the University of Minnesota is showing significant promise for dogs with hemangiosarcoma (HSA), a frequently diagnosed form of cancer that affects primarily large breed dogs. Recent studies on Golden Retrievers and Vizslas have demonstrated a link between neutering and the occurrence of this disease in these two breeds.

HSA most commonly occurs within the spleen, liver and heart. Because these tumors arise from blood vessel cells, they are extremely vascular (blood filled) and prone to abrupt and dramatic bleeding.

To date, treatment options for HSA have involved removal of the tumor (if possible) followed by chemotherapy. Even with such aggressive therapy, only 50 percent of dogs with this disease survive for as long as four to six months. Just 10 percent survive for a year or longer.


The new chemotherapy drug being used to specifically target HSA is referred to as eBAT. Dr. Daniel Vallera, the University of Minnesota Medical School professor who developed eBAT stated, “HSA is a vascular cancer, meaning it forms blood vessels. eBAT was selected for this trial because it can simultaneously target the tumor and its vascular system.”

Results of a study  using eBAT in clinical cases involved 23 dogs of various breeds and sizes, all documented to have hemangiosarcoma within their spleens. Following splenectomy (removal of the spleen), each dog received three eBAT treatments. Amongst the dogs in this study, the six-month survival rate was 70 percent, and six of the 23 dogs (26 percent) lived for more than 450 days. That’s a remarkable improvement!

According to Dr. Jamie Modiano, professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and co-author of the eBAT study results, “This is most likely the most significant advance in the treatment of canine HAS in the last three decades.”

And, compared to chemotherapy drugs that have traditionally been used to treat HSA, negative side effects from eBAT were minimal in the group of dogs studied. Veterinarian and lead author of the study, Dr. Antonella Borgatti stated, “In this trial we aimed for a sweet spot by identifying a dose of eBAT that was effective to treat the cancer, but caused no appreciable harm to the patient. Essentially we’re treating the cancer in a safer and more effective way, improving quality of life and providing a better chance at survival.”

The promising results of this canine HSA study may provide some crossover benefits to the world of human oncology. There are significant similarities between HSA in dogs and a type of cancer in people called angiosarcoma. The results from the canine study make a strong case for clinical trials using eBAT in people with this disease.

What has your experience been with hemangiosarcoma?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at http://www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.



Be Sociable, Share!

One Comment on “Odds Improve for Dogs with Hemangiosarcoma

  1. I run a dog park and we are seeing more and more large breed owners not neutering their companion non breeders because of cancer scares.The percentages does not warrant their insistence on not altering.
    Our dog park has taken a stand,however,on non altered dogs going or attending events that raise money for shelters since breeding of any sort is what keeps shelters open.
    What are your thoughts on this?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *