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Canine Spleen Tumor Diagnosis and Surgery

 Submitted by Michael Adams on April 10, 2010

Tumors of the spleen are common in older dogs and could cause death if not diagnosed and treated promptly. The spleen is an organ near the stomach that is known as the graveyard for the old red blood cells. It filters out dead cells from the blood and also aids the immune system.

There are two types of dog spleen tumors—benign and malignant. The most common types of dog spleen tumors are malignant tumor and they are known as hemangiosarcoma. Larger breed dogs such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Greyhounds, and Dalmatians are the most prone breeds for canine spleen tumor.

The spleen can also become enlarged due to bleeding or due to an infection and this is often confused with a spleen tumor. Thus, it is very important to recognize the symptoms to avoid further consequences. Here are a few symptoms of canine spleen tumor:

  • Visible bleeding is the most common symptom associated with spleen tumor. Nose bleeding is the most common among visible bleeding.
  • Weakness, a cold body, sudden paling in the color of the membranes around the eyes and mouth due to severe blood loss.
  • Abdominal pain, swelling, loss of appetite, and increased respiration.
  • Clinical symptoms include pale gums, anemia, and dark brown color of the urine due to breakdown of red blood cells when hemoglobin starts getting excreted.

The diagnosis of dog spleen tumor includes tests to determine the existence of masses near the abdominal area. Diagnosis also includes proper physical examination to find out firm mass near the spleen area. Radiographs of the abdomen are performed to determine if the mass is on the spleen and a radiograph of the chest is done to check the spread of cancer. These tests can help identify the type of tumor, i.e., benign or malignant.

Abdominal ultrasounds and X-rays detect the extent of the spread of cancer to the liver and other organs. Blood tests are also carried out to know the blood cell count. If no tumor spreading is visible, the mass may or may not be benign. However, if the tumor spread is too small to be seen, it may not be obvious if it is benign or malignant until the abdomen is opened.

The treatment of canine spleen tumor includes either surgery or chemotherapy. If the diagnosis shows a benign or malignant tumor then the preferable treatment is surgical removal of the spleen, known as spleenectomy. Chemotherapy is the follow up treatment in case of malignant tumors. However, there can be strong side effects because the drugs that are usually given are toxic to the organs that divide the cells, including the intestines, bone marrow, and skin.

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