Cancer is characterized by the uncontrolled replication of abnormal cells. It can affect almost any part of your body, including your blood vessels. Although cancer is often thought of as a human disease, it also affects pets and many wild animals.
It’s estimated that more than
Cancer that forms in the lining of blood vessels is very rare in people. In humans, this cancer is called angiosarcoma. In dogs and cats, it’s called hemangiosarcoma.
In this article, we take a deeper look at blood vessel cancer in humans, dogs, and cats.
Angiosarcoma can occur in any part of your body, but it most commonly develops in the skin of your scalp, face, and neck.
Symptoms, treatment, and outlook
Here’s a look at the typical symptoms, and the treatment and outlook for someone with angiosarcoma.
- Symptoms: When an angiosarcoma forms in blood vessels in your skin, it often causes purple-ish bruises that bleed easily and don’t heal. If an angiosarcoma grows on an internal organ, it may not cause problems until it grows large.
- Treatment: Treatment usually consists of some combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. It may also include
targeted therapyor immunotherapy.
- Outlook: Your outlook depends on factors such as how far the cancer has spread and where it’s found. About half of people live less than
Hemangiosarcoma makes up as many as
Symptoms, treatment, and outlook
Here’s a look at the typical symptoms, treatment, and outlook for dogs.
- Symptoms: Even dogs with
large blood vessel cancersmight not show obvious symptoms. Damage to the blood vessel can cause blood loss that leads to lethargy and weakness. This may be brief and appear as episodes of lethargy and weakness, rather than a gradual worsening of symptoms.
- Treatment: The majority of hemangiosarcomas in dogs form in their spleen. Removal of the spleen with chemotherapy is the most common treatment.
- Outlook: Hemangiosarcoma tends to be
very aggressivein dogs, and they typically have a poor outlook. About half of dogs live less than 4 to 6 months.
Blood vessel cancer is
Here’s a look at symptoms, treatment, and outlook in cats.
- If hemangiosarcoma develops in the skin: You may notice one or more
red to purple noduleson your cat’s skin. These masses are typically located in areas where fur is sparse and the skin is lightly pigmented.
- If internal organs are affected:
Symptomsinclude vomiting, weight loss, and lethargy. Symptoms may also include:
- pale mucous membranes
- cardiac murmur
- labored breathing
- rapid heart rate
- depressed mental state
- hypothermia (low body temperature)
In most cases, treatment for hemangiosarcoma in cats involves a combination of surgery and some combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
As with dogs, cats with hemangiosarcoma have a poor outlook since it typically spreads quickly to other body parts.
Researchers don’t know exactly what causes blood vessel cancer, but it develops when genetic mutations in the cells that line your blood vessels cause these cells to replicate out of control. Inherited and environmental factors likely play a role.
Risk factors in humans
- radiation therapy
- ultraviolet (UV) light exposure
- exposure to some chemicals such as:
- polyvinyl chloride
- thorium dioxide
- some hereditary syndromes
- chronic lymphedema, buildup of lymph fluid under your skin
Risk factors in dogs
In dogs, some breeds are at a
- golden retrievers
- German shepherds
- Labrador retrievers
Risk factors in cats
There are many parallels between angiosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the two conditions:
|Common locations||Skin and chest wall||Spleen and other internal organs in dogs, skin in cats|
|Prevalence||Very rare||Fairly common in dogs, less common in cats|
|Treatment||Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery||Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery|
|Symptoms||Persistent bruise on the skin, symptoms related to a specific internal organ||Symptoms related to a specific internal organ, a raised sore that doesn’t heal, general symptoms such as lethargy and weakness|
|Outlook||Generally poor, with half of people living less than ||Generally poor in cats and dogs|
What other animals get cancer?
Almost any animal can develop cancer, but some creatures develop cancer more than others. For example, researchers have found that
Can you get blood vessel cancer from your dog or cat (is it contagious)?
Cancer isn’t contagious. You can’t get blood vessel cancer or any other type of cancer from another person or animal. Some types of cancer such as leukemia and lymphoma are associated with certain viral infections.
How is blood vessel cancer diagnosed in humans?
Imaging techniques like CT scans,
How is blood vessel cancer diagnosed in dogs and cats?
Is there any way to prevent blood vessel cancer in humans, dogs, or cats?
Avoiding prolonged exposure to UV light and certain chemicals such as arsenic may help prevent blood vessel cancer. UV light exposure has also been associated with blood vessel cancer in animals.
Blood vessel cancer is rare in humans. It can also form in dogs, cats, and other animals. It makes up a larger percentage of cancers in dogs than in humans.
Treatment for blood vessel cancer in humans and animals often includes some combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. It tends to be aggressive, and those affected tend to have a poor outlook. However, researchers are continuing to examine new treatment options.