Spleen: neoplasia in Dogs (Canis) | Vetlexicon
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Spleen: neoplasia

ISSN 2398-2942


  • Represents around 7% of canine tumors.
  • Two third of bleeding splenic masses are malignant and two thirds of these are hemangiosarcomas Hemangiosarcoma.
  • Only 30% of non-bleeding splenic nodules are cancerous and 60% of those are hemangiosarcomas.
  • Benign splenic masses are generally more voluminous and heavier than their malignant counterparts.
  • Cause: primary neoplastic lesions, metastatic disease, or manifestation of systemic involvement.
  • Signs: splenomegaly (localized/generalized), splenic mass, and/or non-specific signs of ill health.
  • Diagnosis: ultrasonography, CT scan, fine needle aspirate, biopsy.
  • Treatment: chemotherapy and/or splenectomy.
  • Prognosis: fair to guarded.

Presenting signs

  • May present with signs of underlying disease.
  • Abdominal distension.
  • Respiratory distress.
  • Pale oral mucous membranes.
  • Weakness.
  • Vomiting/diarrhea.
  • Anorexia.
  • Polydipsia/polyuria.

Acute presentation

Geographic incidence

  • Worldwide.

Age predisposition

  • Older dogs (>5 years old).

Breed/Species predisposition

Special risks




  • Infiltration of the spleen with neoplastic cells constitutes one of the most common causes of splenomegaly in dogs.
  • Some tumors such as hemangiosarcomas or histiocytic sarcomas have an aggressive behavior with a high metastatic rate. Others have an indolent behavior such as marginal zone lymphoma.


  • Depends on underlying disease - can be days to months.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Ferrari R, Marconato L, Boracchi P et al (2024) Splenic stromal sarcomas in dogs: Outcome and clinicopathological prognostic factors in 32 cases. Vet Comp Onc 22 (1), 12-21 PubMed.
  • Wittenberns B M,Thamm D H, Palmer E P & Regan D P (2021) Canine Non-Angiogenic, Non-Myogenic Splenic Stromal Sarcoma: a Retrospective Clinicopathological Analysis and Investigation of Podoplanin as a Marker of Tumour Histogenesis. J Comp Path 188, 1-12 PubMed.
  • Latifi M, Tuohy J L, Coutermarsh-Ott S L et al (2020) Clinical outcomes in dogs with localized splenic histiocytic sarcoma treated with splenectomy with or without adjuvant chemotherapy. J Vet Int Med 34 (6), 2645-2650 PubMed.
  • Davies O & Taylor A J (2020) Refining the "double two-thirds" rule: Genotype-based breed grouping and clinical presentation help predict the diagnosis of canine splenic mass lesions in 288 dogs. Vet Comp Oncol 18 (4), 548-558 PubMed.
  • Mullin C, Clifford C A (2019) Histiocytic sarcoma and hemangiosarcoma Update. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 49 (5), 855-879 PubMed.
  • Tecilla M, Gambini M, Forlani A et al (2019) Evaluation of cytological diagnostic accuracy for canine splenic neoplasms: An investigation in 78 cases using STARD guidelines. PLoS ONE 14 (11), e0224945 PubMed.
  • Linden D, Liptak J M, Vinayak A et al (2019) Outcomes and prognostic variables associated with primary abdominal visceral soft tissue sarcomas in dogs: A Veterinary Society of Surgical Oncology retrospective study. Vet Comp Oncol 17 (3), 265-270 PubMed.
  • Elliott J (2018) Lomustine chemotherapy for the treatment of presumptive haemophagocytic histiocytic sarcoma in Flat-coated Retrievers. Aust Vet J 96 (12), 502-507 PubMed.
  • Cleveland M J, Casale S (2016) Incidence of malignancy and outcomes for dogs undergoing splenectomy for incidentally detected nonruptured splenic nodules or masses: 105 cases (2009-2013). J Am Vet Med Assoc 248 (11), 1267-73 PubMed.
  • van Stee L L, Boston S F, Singh A et al (2015) Outcome and prognostic factors for canine splenic lymphoma treated by splenectomy (1995-2011). Vet Surg 44 (8), 976–982 PubMed.
  • Wendelburg K M, O'Toole T E, McCobb E et al (2014) Risk factors for perioperative death in dogs undergoing splenectomy for splenic masses: 539 cases (2001-2012) J Am Vet Med Assoc 245 (12), 1382-1390 PubMed.
  • Flood-Knapik K E, Durham A C, Gregor T P et al (2013) Clinical, histopathological and immunohistochemical characterization of canine indolent lymphoma. Vet Comp Oncol 11 (4), 272-86 PubMed.
  • O'Brien D, Moore P F, Vernau W et al (2013) Clinical characteristics and outcome in dogs with splenic marginal zone lymphoma. J Vet Int Med 27 (4), 949-54 PubMed.
  • Mallinckrodt M J & Gottfried S D (2011) Mass-to-splenic volume ratio and splenic weight as a percentage of body weight in dogs with malignant and benign splenic masses: 65 cases (2007–2008). J Am Vet Med Assoc 239 (10), 1325–1327 PubMed.
  • Boston S E, Higginson G & Monteith G (2011) Concurrent splenic and right atrial mass at presentation in dogs with HSA: a retrospective study. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 47 (5), 336-41 PubMed.
  • Stefanello D, Valenti P, Zini E et al (2010) Splenic marginal zone lymphoma in 5 dogs (2001–2008). J Vet Intern Med 25 (1), 90–93 PubMed.
  • Christensen N, Canfield P, Martin P et al (2009) Cytopathological and histopathological diagnosis of canine splenic disorders. Aust Vet J 87 (5), 175-181 PubMed.
  • Hammond T N & Pesillo-Crosby S A (2008) Prevalence of hemangiosarcoma in anemic dogs with a splenic mass and hemoperitoneum requiring a transfusion: 71 cases (2003–2005). J Am Vet Med Assoc 232 (4), 553–558 PubMed.
  • Ballegeer E A, Forrest L J, Dickinson R M et al (2007) Correlation of ultrasonographic appearance of lesions and cytologic and histologic diagnoses in splenic aspirates from dogs and cats: 32 cases (2002-2005). J Am Vet Med Assoc 230 (5), 690-696 PubMed.
  • Fulmer A K & Maudlin G E (2007) Canine histocytic neoplasia: an overview. Can Vet J 48 (10), 1041-1043, 1046-1050 PubMed.
  • Skorupski K, Clifford C, Paoloni M et al (2007) CCNU for the treatment of dogs with histocytic sarcoma. JVIM 21 (1), 121-126 PubMed.
  • Moore P F, Affolter V K & Vernau W (2006) Canine hemophagocytic histiocytic sarcoma: a proliferative disorder of CD11d+ macrophages. Vet Pathol 43 (5), 632-645 PubMed.
  • Affolter V K & Moore P F (2002) Localized and disseminated histocytic sarcoma of dendritic cell origin in dog. Vet Path 39 (1), 74-83 PubMed.
  • Spangler W L & Kass P H (1999) Splenic myeloid metaplasia, histiocytosis and hypersplenism in the dog (65 cases). Vet Pathol 36 (6), 583-593 PubMed.
  • Spangler W L, Culbertson M R & Kass P H (1994) Primary Mesenchymal (Nonangiomatous / Nonlymphomatous) Neoplasms Occurring in the Canine Spleen: Anatomic Classification, Immunohistochemistry, and Mitotic Activity Correlated with Patient Survival. Vet Path 31 (1), 37-47 PubMed.
  • Spangler W L & Culbertson M R (1992) Prevalence, type and importance of splenic diseases in dogs – 1480 cases (1985-1989). JAVMA 200 (6), 829-834 PubMed.
  • Hammer A S, Couto C G, Swardson C & Getzy D (1991) Hemostatic abnormalities in dogs with hemangiosarcoma J Vet Int Med 5 (1), 11-14 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Withrow S J & MacEwen E G (2020) Small Animal Clinical Oncology. 6th edn. W B Saunders, USA.
  • Couto C G & Hammer A S (1995) Diseases of the lymph nodes and the spleen. In: Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 4th edn. Eds: Ettinger S J & Feldman E C. W B Saunders, USA. pp 1930-1946.