Large Breed Abdominal Tumors

Cancer is one of the major causes of death in dogs. Large breed dogs such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, Portuguese Water Dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Flat Coated Retrievers, Boxers and Skye Terriers, among others are very prone to developing tumors in the liver or spleen called Hemangiosarcomas. Hemangiosarcoma is a tumor which arises from the blood vessels and tends to develop fragile blood filled tumors which commonly rupture in the abdomen of the pet leading to emergency surgery or death. According to the Golden Retriever Health Study published in 2000, the estimated lifetime risk of hemangiosarcoma in this breed is 1 in 5, illustrating the magnitude of this problem.

I bring this up because we found splenic tumors in two patients this week on routine examination. Both dogs were large breed and over 7 years old. Both dogs made it through surgery fortunately and now we are awaiting their biopsy reports. Odds are statistically 50:50 that the tumors will be benign vs malignant. If they are benign, then removal of the primary tumor will be curative. If they are malignant, the prognosis is guarded and follow up with chemotherapy will be needed to maximize the chance of survival.

Ultrasound is the most sensitive modality to check for these tumors. Ultrasound let’s us look into the organs and detect tumors as small as 1/4 inch in diameter. Catching the tumors early yields the greatest chance of long term survival.

We encourage all large breed dogs over the age of 7 to have an abdominal ultrasound, it could easily save their lives.

To help encourage this screening test, mention this blog post and receive $50.00 discount on abdominal ultrasound. A scheduled appointment is required. Not valid with other promotions.

5-21 Update:

Great news, the biopsies we sent off on both of these splenectomy dogs came back as benign Hematomas. Hematomas often rupture and can kill a pet due to blood loss. Removing the tumors in these dogs should allow them to live out their normal life spans!