WINTER 2010 Plum Park Farm, Watling Street, Paulerspury, Towcester, Northants NN12 6LQ ☎ 01327 811007 NEWS Practice News Sarcoid tumour Well Done Jade! The Truth near horse’s eye Jade Goff one of our team of hard working veterinary about Sarcoids nurses has passed her first year equine veterinary nurs- Equine sarcoids are the most common tumours seen and account for approxi- ing exams. mately nine out of every ten skin tumours seen in horses. They are non-malignant Blakesley Show (i.e. they do not spread throughout the body) but do grow larger and often spread and multiply locally. Their presence can cause irritation, interference with tack and loss of value to the affected horse. If knocked or rubbed their surface will bleed, and fly worry and local infection commonly occur. What do sarcoids look like? Sarcoids can occur just about anywhere on It was lovely to see so many Typical examples of sarcoids the body but are most commonly found on of you at Blakesley show the head, (especially around the eyes), the this year. The above is just underneath of the abdomen and around the a snapshot of some of the sheath, chest, ears and lower limbs. Single goings on at the Towcester tumours or a number of sarcoids may occur Veterinary Centre marquee. in one area or over many parts of the body. Welcome Matilda! There are different types of sarcoid and they can vary quite widely in appearance. Flat (occult) sarcoids appear as round to oval, flat Mixed Occult areas of roughened, hairless, irregular skin. Fibroblastic sarcoids are irregularly round, raised, firm lumps. They are usually smooth and hairless at least over part of their surface but smaller ones are sometimes covered with normal-looking skin. If the surface becomes damaged, the tumour will ulcerate and bleed, leading to scab formation. Verrucous sarcoids appear wart-like with an irregular surface. Congratulations to Mike and A horse may have different types of sarcoids Alice, Matilda Belle Sheldon at the same time and mixed-types also occur. came into this world at a Sarcoids can grow to become very large Verrucous Nodular very civilised time on the (over 8-10 cms), although most remain evening of Sunday the 8th smaller than this. of August. She has already Sarcoids can be similar in appearance to other been up to Plum Park help- skin tumours (e.g. fibromas, mast cell tumours ing Mummy and Daddy with and non-pigmented melanomas) and it may be their horses. necessary to submit a sample (biopsy) or the whole tumour to a laboratory for analysis for a precise diagnosis to be made. If possible it is usually preferable to remove the whole tumour in the first instance for laboratory examination. This avoids a second surgical procedure after diagnosis and avoids traumatising the tumour Fibroblastic Malignant still ‘in situ’ potentially encouraging its spread. Continued overleaf Towcester Veterinary Centre Equine Clinic Plum Park Farm, Watling Street, Paulerspury, Towcester, Northants NN12 6LQ Tel: 01327 811007 • www.towcester-vets.co.uk What treatments are available? than surgery alone, but often results in the development of There are several options for treatment of sarcoids and patches of white hair due to damage to hair follicles. more than one treatment may be used at the same time. BCG vaccine The important thing to remember is that sarcoids have BCG is a vaccine produced from the bacterium Mycobac- a great tendency to recur either at the site of removal or terium bovis for immunization against tuberculosis. It may nearby. The choice of treatment will depend upon several be injected into the sarcoid tumour(s), often with useful factors: results. Several injections over several weeks or months • The number and size of the may be required. This treatment is aimed at provoking sarcoids present an immune reaction from the horse’s body to destroy or reject the sarcoid tissue. It is most commonly used for • The part of the horse affected eyelid tumours because, if effective, it allows the eyelid to • The facilities and drugs available be saved. A response may not be seen for several weeks after first injection. There is often initial • Financial considerations swelling and there may be skin damage fol- What methods of treatment lowing injections and rarely, death has been reported following an anaphylactic shock are there? reaction to the vaccine. Horses to be treated Chemotherapy with BCG should receive anti-inflammatory Specially-prepared cytotoxic (tissue drugs prior to each treatment. killing) creams have been widely used to treat sarcoid tumours. These attack Radioactive beads or wires the abnormal cells in the sarcoid and are This highly specialised technique is not often highly effective, but can also damage widely used but can be effective particularly healthy tissues. They must be used with for eyelid sarcoids where it is necessary great care, especially over bony areas to try to save the eyelid. The radioactive or blood vessels and nerves. They can BCG can be used in the treatment shrinks the tumour and may be used on smaller and flat sarcoids or treatment of sarcoids disfigure the eyelid. This form of treatment larger ones after surgical de-bulking. The must be performed under specially licensed cream can only be supplied to and used conditions. by a veterinary surgeon. Another cytotoxic No matter which treatment option is drug (Cisplatin) is available but must be chosen it can take many months to remove injected into a sarcoid to be effective. This some sarcoids and the effect might not is another highly specialised technique be permanent. Treatment may need to be as dose and pattern of injections varies repeated or changed if new sarcoids appear. with size and shape of the sarcoid. Both The application of small Such treatment can be costly. techniques cause local inflammation and strong rubber rings scarring is variable, depending on the size Should I buy a horse with sarcoids? (elastrator rings) and location of the sarcoids. In addition to welfare considerations, Applying ligatures or rubber rings sarcoids affect the potential value of a horse It is possible to remove the bulk of some or pony in two main ways: sarcoids, especially those with a short 1. If they interfere with tack or are knocked stalk or neck, by fixing a tight ligature during exercise, they reduce the ability of around its base or applying ‘elastrator’ that horse or pony to perform. If a mare rings. The ligature cuts off the tumour’s has sarcoids between her back legs or on blood supply and it dies away or falls off her udder they might be knocked or sucked usually 10 days to two weeks later. This Sarcoids can affect the when the foal nurses. method is useful for short-term control of potential value of a horse relatively large sarcoids on the inside of or pony 2. They may be expensive to remove or be the hind limbs or abdomen but does not treated if prolonged or repeated treatments usually give long-term resolution of the are required. problem. The most common system used is the applica- These considerations must be considered against the tion of small strong rubber rings (elastrator rings) using value of the horse and its other qualities or potentials. a special applicator. There may be some local swelling after their application but this usually subsides once the Conclusion sarcoid drops off. Sarcoids are much more significant than ‘just a few lumps’ Freezing (Cryosurgery) and can be difficult and costly to deal with. If you think The sarcoid may be frozen by using liquid nitrogen or your horse or pony may have one or more sarcoids, you another appropriate freezing agent, which causes the tissue should ask a veterinary surgeon for advice. Best results to die away. If the sarcoid is large, most of it can be cut are achieved when a diagnosis is made and appropriate away first (de-bulking), leaving only the base to be frozen. treatment is started early. Scarring is less obvious when the This method is more effective at preventing recurrence sarcoids are removed or treated when they are small. This Newsletter is provided as an education service to our clients. All news and other items in this newsletter are for information only and should not be treated as a substitute for specialist veterinary advice. For all images, the copyright is the property of the photographer.