Angiosarcoma is a relatively uncommon type of tumor that originates in the lining of blood vessels and lymph vessels. Most often, this cancer develops on the surface of the skin, although it can potentially affect any part of the body, including deep tissues and organs.

A rare and highly nuanced cancer, angiosarcoma can be challenging to diagnose and treat, so it is important to seek specialized care. The requisite expertise can be found at the Sarcoma Center of Excellence in Tampa General Hospital’s Cancer Institute. Accredited by the Commission on Cancer (CoC), TGH has earned the prestigious "High Performing in Cancer" designation from U.S. News & World Report for 2023-24. This ranks us among the top 10% of hospitals in the nation.

Angiosarcoma Causes

The causes of angiosarcoma are unclear, but researchers have linked the condition to several risk factors, such as prior radiation treatment and lymphedema. Certain genetic syndromes are also associated with angiosarcoma, including breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1), breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2), and the gene mutations that lead to the development of neurofibromatosis, Maffucci syndrome or Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome.

Angiosarcoma Symptoms

The symptoms of angiosarcoma can vary depending on the location of the tumor, such as:

Angiosarcoma of the Skin

Most often, angiosarcoma develops on the skin of the head or neck. The most common sign is a raised patch that resembles a bruise and may be tender. The lesion may grow larger over time and cause swelling in the surrounding area. When scratched or bumped, it may bleed easily.

Angiosarcoma of the Breast

Primary angiosarcoma of the breast affects people who have never been treated for breast cancer. The symptoms can include:

  • A thickened area of breast skin
  • A breast lump
  • A rash or bruise-like lesion on the skin of the breast or upper arm

Secondary angiosarcoma of the breast has been linked to prior radiation treatment and lymphedema in the breast or arm. The symptoms can include:

  • Swelling in the breast or arm
  • A painful lump in the breast
  • A rash or bruise-like lesion on the skin of the breast or upper arm

Angiosarcoma of the Liver

The symptoms of hepatic angiosarcoma are usually nonspecific. Some patients experience:

  • Pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen
  • Distention of the abdomen
  • Jaundice
  • Fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

Cardiac Angiosarcoma

If angiosarcoma occurs in the heart, the tumor usually forms in the upper right chamber (atrium), where it can obstruct the inflow or outflow of blood. The blockage may cause noticeable symptoms, such as swelling in the abdomen, leg, ankle or foot and distended veins in the neck.

Angiosarcoma Diagnosis

If angiosarcoma is suspected based on the symptoms, a physician will typically perform a physical examination and order imaging tests, such as:

Additionally, a biopsy will be needed to confirm or rule out a diagnosis of angiosarcoma. This procedure involves removing a small sample of suspicious tissue for microscopic evaluation by a pathologist, who can identify cancerous cells and gather information about their characteristics, which will be considered when planning treatment.

Angiosarcoma Treatment

The optimal treatment plan for angiosarcoma can vary depending on several factors, including the location and size of the tumor and whether it has spread to other areas of the body. Common options include:

  • Surgery- A surgeon removes the angiosarcoma along with a slim margin of surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Radiation therapy- High-energy beams, such as X-rays or protons, are directed at the tumor to destroy the cancerous cells.
  • Chemotherapy- After being administered intravenously or orally, powerful anticancer drugs enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body to reach widespread cancerous cells.
  • Targeted therapy- A tailored drug regimen is designed to target and block specific chemicals found in the cancer cells, ultimately causing the cells to die.
  • Immunotherapy - Medications are administered to boost the body’s immune system and enhance its natural ability to fight cancer.
  • Benefit From World-Class Care at TGH

    TGH's innovative, multidisciplinary sarcoma treatment center offers personalized angiosarcoma care that is accessible to everyone. If you would like to talk with a member of our team, contact us at (813) 844-4151 to request an appointment.