Is your horse at risk of penile cancer?

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    In equines cancerous tumours are not particularly rare. In fact, tumours of the external genitalia are second in number only to the skin.

    The most common form of penile cancer is the squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). This is a malignant tumour capable of spreading and having devastating consequences.

    SCCs account for more than half of all penile tumours, while melanomas and sarcoids are the other common cancers found in this region.

    Most penile tumours occur in older horses — over 17 years old — but any middle-aged horse is at risk.

    A typical clinical sign is a blood-stained or pus-like discharge from the sheath, which often alerts owners to a problem.

    A biopsy is useful to prove that the lesion is a tumour.

    Occasionally, lameness can be a sign of a penile tumour and horses may be tender in the sheath area.

    Contact your vet straight away if you suspect something is amiss.

    To find out more about the dangers of penile cancer and how it can be treated, see the vet clinic in the current issue of Horse & Hound, 23 December

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