The most common cancers in horses

  • When cancer cases diagnosed from biopsies or post-mortem examinations at Bristol University were reviewed, the most commonly diagnosed tumours were found to be:

  • Sarcoids. These are very common in horses and can range from small, innocuous-looking warts to large aggressive lumps that can cause serious problems.
  • Squamous cell carcinomas are usually smaller pink fleshy growths and affect the eye, eyelids or the penis. Appaloosas are at a particularly high risk of eye and eyelid squamous cell carcinoma, whereas pony geldings are at a higher risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the penis.
  • Lymphoma is a cancer of the white blood cells that can take several forms. This cancer usually spreads throughout the body and treatment is almost always unsuccessful.
  • Melanomas are common tumours affecting grey horses. They are most commonly found under the tail head.
  • Granulosa cell tumours affect mares’ ovaries. They can cause behaviour changes if they produce hormones and can grow very big.

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    To read the full veterinary article on cancer see the current issue of H&H (7 June 2012)

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