Research Update: How effective is surgical excision of feline cutaneous hemangiosarcomas?


Research Update: How effective is surgical excision of feline cutaneous hemangiosarcomas?

Sep 01, 2005

In this retrospective study from the Animal Medical Center in New York City, the medical records of 18 cats with feline cutaneous hemangiosarcoma were reviewed, and the cats' clinical features and responses to surgery were described. Only cats with tumors of the skin, with or without underlying muscle involvement, were included in the study.

The mean age of the cats at diagnosis was 11.5 years, and all of the cats had solitary tumors with no evidence of metastases based on thoracic radiography (18 cats) and abdominal ultrasonography (11 cats). The most common tumor location (12 cats) was in the subcutaneous tissues of the trunk or the proximal hindlimb. These tumors tended to be large (mean diameter = 11.2 cm), firm, red or purple lesions.

Median survival times based on tumor location, tumor size, patient age, and sex were compared and were not statistically significant. Surgical excision was performed in 10 cats, and complete surgical margins were achieved in five of these patients. All five of these cats were alive at their last evaluation (mean disease-free interval = 479 days). The median survival time for the five cats with incomplete tumor resection was 910 days. The median survival time for the cats not operated on was 60 days. The cats that underwent surgery had significantly longer survival times. The authors concluded that surgical excision of cutaneous hemangiosarcomas has a favorable long-term prognosis.

McAbee KP, Ludwig LL, Bergman PJ, et al. Feline cutaneous hemangiosarcoma: a retrospective study of 18 cases (1998-2003). J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 2005;41:110-116.


Hemangiosarcoma is a malignancy of the vascular endothelial cells and is classified into visceral or primary cutaneous forms. The latter has been less frequently described, and the authors of this study provide more clinical data on this unusual lesion. It appears from their results that surgical excision provides a favorable outcome since metastatic disease or local recurrence does not occur frequently, even in cases with incomplete margins. Furthermore, most of the cats that died or were euthanized had life-threatening cardiac or renal conditions; only two cats were euthanized because of tumors with increased size or recurrent discharge. It would be interesting to know if the data presented from this population base could be confirmed by other studies performed elsewhere.

Joseph Harari, MS, DVM, DACVS
The information in "Research Updates" was provided by Veterinary Medicine Editorial Advisory Board member Joseph Harari, MS, DVM, DACVS, Veterinary Surgical Specialists, 21 E. Mission Ave., Spokane, WA 99202.