Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is an aggressive and common cancer in dogs. While cutaneous masses are often treatable by tumor excision, visceral tumors are almost always incurable. Treatment advances for this disease have been limited due to a poor understanding of the overall tumor biology. Based upon its histological appearance, HSA has been presumed to originate from transformed endothelial cells; however, accumulating data now suggest a pluripotent bone marrow progenitor as the cell of origin for this disease. More recently, the identification of a novel subclassification of HSAs has provided a foundation to further our understanding of the cellular characteristics of HSA tumor cells, along with those of the cells comprising the tumor microenvironment. These discoveries hold promise for the development of new approaches to improve treatments for canine HSA, as well as to establish the utility of this disease as a spontaneous model to understand the pathogenesis and develop new treatments for vascular tumors of humans. In this review, we will provide a brief historical perspective and pathobiology of canine HSA, along with a focus on the recent advances in the molecular and cellular understanding of these tumors. In addition, future directions that should continue to improve our understanding of HSA pathogenesis will be discussed.
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