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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Sarcoids are the most common skin tumours in horses, and a variety of different techniques are used to treat them. A scientific paper published in the Veterinary Record reported the results of a study comparing the success of different treatment regimens.

Sarcoids are unsightly skin tumours which are found at different body sites. Recurrence is a common problem following surgical removal, and no single method of treatment is generally accepted as being the best.  In a paper published in the Veterinary Record (2001) 149, 665-669  the authors reported on the success of a variety of different treatment regimens for equine sarcoids. The following table summarises their results :

Procedure Number of Horses/Tumours Success Rate Comments
Surgical removal with at least an 8mm margin from the visible tumour tissue, using: 
  • Scalpel with electrocautery, OR
  • CO2 laser
53 Horses

148 sarcoids

18/22 horses (82%) were successfully treated by surgical excision (scalpel and electrocautery)

20/28 horses (71%) were successfully treated by CO2 laser

A wide margin of healthy skin was removed in all cases to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Great care was taken to avoid local contamination of the wound with cells from the tumour during excision

Cryosurgery following surgical removal of most of tissue 15 Horses

19 Sarcoids

11/14 horses (79%) were successfully treated Two freezing cycles were used to at least -32oC thawing back to 20oC
Local BCG vaccination following surgical removal of most of tissue, except for periocular sarcoids which were not debulked first 27 Horses

30 Sarcoids

18/27 horses (67%) were successfully treated by BCG vaccination Four vaccinations were given at 0, 14,35 and 56 days

These results show that the majority of sarcoids in horses can be successfully treated using one of the above techniques. Failure to respond and recurrence was most likely to occur for sarcoids that were very large, or sarcoids that had not responded to earlier attempts at treatment ...suggesting that early intervention is important. So, sarcoids should be treated when they are small.



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