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Skin Cancer (Hemangiosarcoma) in Dogs



The most successful outcome will require surgery along with chemical therapy. A wide surgical excision of the tumor, along with some of the normal skin tissue surrounding it is the typically the most effective treatment. However, if the tumor involves subcutaneous tissue, complete removal may be difficult to achieve.


After the initial surgery, your veterinary oncologist may recommend continued radiation therapy, especially if a complete resection of the tumor could not be achieved. Chemotherapy may also be an option but whether it is used or not will be decided by your veterinary oncologist.


Living and Management


As with other malignant tumors, dogs affected with this tumor have a limited lifespan after diagnosis. Surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy may prolong your dog's lifespan, but not significantly. Dogs that have been diagnosed and treated for cancer need to be fed a diet that is specifically formulated for them. Your veterinarian will help you plan a diet for your dog posttreatment.


Postoperative pain is common, and your veterinarian will recommend pain relieving medications to minimize your dog's discomfort. However, never use any pain medication without your veterinarian's prior consent. There are some pain killers that may aggravate the bleeding problems in affected dogs. Use pain medications with caution and follow all directions carefully; one of the most preventable accidents with pets is an overdose of medication.


After surgery, you will need to set up a place in the house where your dog can rest comfortably and quietly away from other pets, active children, and busy entryways. Trips outdoors for bladder and bowel relief should be kept short and easy for your dog to handle during the recovery period. In addition, you will need to limit your dog's exposure to sunlight, and use pet safe sunscreen or cover ups when you do have to spend time in the sun.


Each dog is different, and some will survive longer than others. The location and extent of the tumor will determine the prognosis, but the average time of survival after surgery is often less than a year. Moreover, complete and permanent remission is rare.


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