TUMORS OF THE SPLEEN

Tumors of the spleen can be categorized as benign (nodular hyperplasia / hematoma) versus malignant (hemangio-sarcoma).  Benign tumors account for 40 to 50 %, and malignant for 60 to 50 % of all splenic lesions. 

WHAT IS THE BREED AFFECTED BY SPLENIC TUMORS ?

The most common malignant splenic tumor is Hemangio-sarcoma, and it is over-represented in Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Poodles, and shepherds. The age of presentation is usually between 9 to 11 years of age.

HOW DO I KNOW THAT MY DOG HAS A SPLENIC TUMOR?

Common clinical signs that can lead to a diagnosis of a splenic tumor, include abdominal distension, lethargy, collapse and white gums (anemia). The definitive diagnosis of benign versus malignant disease is based on biopsy results obtained during surgery. 

WHAT ARE THE TESTINGS TO BE PERFORMED BEFORE SURGERY FOR SPLENIC TUMORS?

In preparation for surgery blood work, urinalysis, clotting profile, chest x-rays, abdominal and heart ultrasounds should be recommended.

IS SURGERY THE ONLY TREATMENT FOR SPLENIC TUMORS?

Surgery is the only treatment modality used for splenic tumors. The surgery is called splenectomy and involves removing the spleen. 

WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS WITH SPLENECTOMY (REMOVAL OF SPLEEN).

The complications associated with splenectomy are not common, however they could be fatal.  Irregular heartbeat, hemorrhage (internal bleeding), pancreatitis and incisional dehiscence (opening) are seen within the first 48 to 72 hours, therefore EKG (electrocardiogram) should be performed immediately post op. Some patients need a blood transfusion because often the tumor ruptures internally and hemorrhage occurs.

WHAT IS THE PROGNOSIS FOR SPLENIC TUMORS?

The prognosis for splenic tumors is based on the nature of the mass, benign versus malignant. Benign tumors have an excellent prognosis (cured), however hemangiosarcoma carry a poor prognosis,  due to the spreading of the cancer (metastasis). With surgery alone for hemangiosarcoma, the survival is 2 to 4 months, and in combination with chemotherapy the survival is prolonged to 6 to 8 months.