Melanomas in horses

  • More veterinary advice for horse owners

    Fortunately, melanomas in horses are not quite as nasty a form of cancer as their human counterparts and they often grow slowly.

    They are more common in grey horses and can develop in multiple sites. Common locations for melanomas include under the tail and around the head area.

    They can metastasise to other organs in the body, but it can take years before they start to become problematic.

    While those under the tail are slow-growing, they can develop to a size where it becomes difficult for horses to pass faeces normally.

    Treatment options:

    • There is no evidence to suggest that metastasis is more likely to occur if small melanomas are removed surgically and so it may be sensible for your vet to remove these at an early stage while they are still small.

    Melanomas that grow on the margin of the eyelids can become particularly problematic if they start to rub in the surface of the eye itself and so, again, these should be removed at an early stage.

    For the full article on equine cancer, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (16 April, ’09)

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