Sarcoids in Horses and Ponies - a form of equine skin cancer

horse sarcoid

Definition: Sarcoids in Horses are a benign form of equine skin cancer thought to caused by a virus infection which also causes skin diseases in cows.

Sarcoids should not be referred to as warts as they are not caused by the papilloma virus.

The growths are locally invasive in skin surrounding the sarcoid but they do not spread to the horse's internal organs as can occur with malignant tumours.

However some horses and ponies do become severely affected by the condition.

Sarcoids can occur in all breeds, types and colours of horses in all areas of the world.

Sarcoids can appear almost anywhere on the horse's body. The most usual sites for sarcoids are areas of the horse that have thin skin and/or with little or no hair cover.

There are six different types of equine sarcoid: Occult, Verrucose, Nodular, Fibroblastic, Mixed and Malevolent.

The verrucous or warty type of sarcoid grows slowly and has a dry hardened, crusty or cauliflower like appearance. It can be flat or pendunculated (stands up on a stalk).

The fibrolastic form of sarcoid grows much faster and usually occurs on the legs head or abdomen.

Sarcoids increase in number during the summer, possibly spread by flies and insects, and increase in size during the winter months.

Once a horse has developed one sarcoid growth it is extremely likely that he will get more.

How to treat Sarcoids in horses

There are several methods of treatment for horse sarcoids -

Surgical Removal, Cryosurgery or freezing, Radiation, Homeopathy, BCG Injection, laser surgery and chemotherapy are the most common.

Care must be taken with Homeopathic and natural treatments as some substances such as Aloe Vera and Tea Tree oil are contra-indicated and can be dangerous.

The homeopathic remedy Thuja has been reported as being a successful remedy for sarcoids where other treatments have failed - especially for the waryt type.

Recommended use is 3 x 1m tablets twice a day for one week, followed by a break of a week, then dosing for another week until the growths disappear.

Thuja cream is another method of treatment and can be applied every other day.

Silica is a homeopathic remedy recommended to benefit the nodular type of sarcoid

Accidental injury, biopsy or surgical interference with a sarcoid growth on a horse may aggravate the growth and cause agressive regrowth.

Ideally a horse should be treated for sarcoids at an early stage when the lesions are small and before they have spread.

At the present time there is research being carried out on equine sarcoids at universities worldwide.


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