Sarcoids are best regarded as a form of skin cancer that can occur in all horses. Although they won’t metastasise to other organs then can still be quite problematic. As their type and appearance may vary the equine sarcoid is easily mistaken for other skin conditions.
A horse that has any sarcoids at all is, by definition, liable to them and probably remains so for life. It is not known whether sarcoid tumours are transmissible between horses but flies may be important in the spread of sarcoid across the horse. Horses with sarcoids that injure themselves can develop serious sarcoid lesions at the site of the injury.
Overall it is accepted that sarcoids are difficult to treat. Accidental injury or intentional damage (e.g. biopsy or surgical interference) to a sarcoid may result in a more aggressive lesion with rapid re-growth.
Horses should be treated at an early stage in the disease when lesions are small. Accidental injury or intentional damage (e.g. biopsy or surgical interference) to a sarcoid may result in a more aggressive lesion with rapid re-growth. The best possible treatment should be applied at the earliest available opportunity; inappropriate treatment is a potential disaster.
Treatment options available at the Camden Equine Centre include:
- CO2 Laser surgery
- Cisplatin injections
- Cisplatin beads
- Topical therapy (Aldara or Efudix cream)
Not all horses respond in the same way either to the presence of sarcoid tumours or to the treatment modalities. Depending on the type, number and location of the sarcoids a horse specific treatment plan will be determined.
An early diagnosis and prompt and effective treatment is the best overall policy.
For more information equine sarcoids or to book an appointment, please call the clinic on 02 4655 0777.
Mixed, fibroblastic and verrucose sarcoid treated with laser surgery
Mixed sacoids treated with surgical removal and multiple cisplatin injections
Main image at top: This patient was presented with a fibroblastic sarcoid on the left front leg. The tumour was repeatedly injected with 5-fluruouracil, a chemotherapeutic agent.