Splenic tumors

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Macroscopic view of a canine splenic sarcoma[1]

Splenic tumors are a common neoplasms of the canine spleen, the majority being differentiated or undifferentiated sarcomas or histiocytomas.

These tumors may originate as primary splenic tumors or as secondary manifestations of primary neoplasms in other organs or as systemic disease (e.g. lymphoma, dendritic-cell leukemia[2]).

Variant forms include:

Clinical signs in affected dogs are usually nonspecific and include a palpable abdominal mass, weight loss, polydipsia, lethargy and vomiting[16].

Secondary paraneoplastic symptoms may be evident such as pemphigus[17], immune-mediated hemolytic anemia[18], hypoalbuminemia and regenerative anemia[19].

Abdominal aspiration may reveal hemoperitoneum and peritonitis[20].

A presumptive diagnosis is frequently established on clinical history, chest radiographs, echocardiogram, CT scans[21] and abdominal ultrasonography[22]. An ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration of the splenic mass will assist in establishing a conclusive diagnosis[23].

Histological examination is usually required for a definitive diagnosis, and in most cases, tissue samples are obtained during exploratory laparotomy.

A differential diagnosis would include splenic contracture post-anesthesia, splenic hematoma, mast cell tumor[24], splenitis and secondary lymphoma[25], mast cell tumor and hemangiosarcoma[26].

Prognosis is dependent upon the type of sarcoma, but splenectomy may improve survival rates if metastasis has not occurred[27]. Adjuvant chemotherapy with low-dose doxorubicin has shown promise with splenic hemangiosarcoma[28].

Hemangiosarcomas, which are the most frequently diagnosed, are often benign in dogs.

A rare complications of splenectomy in these cases is gastric dilatation-volvulus in large-breed dogs[29].


  1. Tufts University
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