Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
My 6 year old Dalmatian was just diagnosed with cancer. The good news is that what we originally thought was an osteosarcoma turned out to be a soft tissue tumor on the leg (ankle joint). They called this a Lymphangiosarcoma. I caught this early and amputation is the recommended course of treatment. I feel like this is the direction to take. Am I crazy? I know you can't make this decision for me but any information you can give would be greatly appreciated.
Lili Duda, VMD, Editor of the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Section, responds:
Lymphangiosarcomas are rare tumors in dogs. Since it is an uncommon tumor, you may want to consider getting a second opinion on the biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
There is relatively little published information about these tumors. However, they might have a similar behavior to hemangiosarcomas, which are common high-grade (i.e., aggressive) sarcomas found in dogs. These tumors have the potential for widespread metastasis to the lung, liver, and spleen. A thorough staging evaluation is recommended prior to pursuing a treatment course. This would include abdominal ultrasound, chest X-rays, CBC and blood chemistries.
If there is no detectable evidence of metastasis (spread of the tumor) then completely removing the primary tumor followed by a standard chemotherapy protocol for hemangiosarcoma is a reasonable treatment option. Again, because lymphangiosarcomas are rare in dogs, there is little known about prognosis and benefits of treatment. However, assuming a similarity to hemangiosarcoma, the prognosis must be guarded.
If metastasis is present, any treatment is considered palliative. Radiation may help control symptoms at the primary tumor site; chemotherapy may help slow progression of the disease.
If you or your veterinarian have not already done so, please consult a qualified veterinary oncologist to further explore the treatment options for your pet.