Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs

    As a veterinarian, I dread diagnosing hemangiosarcoma in my patients because there are no successful treatments for this aggressive cancer.  Hemangiosarcoma originates from blood vessels so it can occur anywhere in the body.  In dogs, I see it most commonly in the spleen, heart and skin.  German Shephards and Golden Retrievers are the breeds most affected by hemangiosarcoma.  
    Traditional treatment centers around removing the tumor by performing a lumpectomy with wide margins on skin masses or a splenectomy for splenic masses. Even with removal, metastasis to the liver and lung are common.  Most patients die or are euthanized within two to three months of diagnosis.  
    Drs. Dorothy Cimino Brown and Jennifer Reetz decided to try a polysaccharopeptide (PSP) from the Yunzhi mushroom.  PSP is believed to have the ability to fight tumors as well as boost the immune system.  They took a group of 15 dogs with hemangiosarcoma, divided them into three groups and placed them on 25, 50 or 100 mg/kg/day.  The results were astounding.  The median survival time for the 100 mg group was 199 days.  For patients without any treatment median survival was  86 days.  Best of all, no side effects were reported.  Based on the success of this study, more research is planned to confirm their results.  Although this is far from a demonstrated standard of care, it is quite encouraging.  I look forward to monitoring progress in this line of research and desperately hope to have a treatment in the future that offers realistic hope to animals and people.

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Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.