Skin Tumors (Equine Sarcoid) in Horses



Sarcoids are difficult to treat and there is no single best therapy to use. Some methods involve surgical removal (excision), freezing therapy (cryotherapy), laser treatments, topical chemotherapeutic drugs, injection of a chemotherapeutic drug into the tumor, radiowave therapy, and heat treatment. Immunotherapy has also been used.


Recurrence of the tumors is common after removal, but they do not tend to spread to internal organs like some other cancers (metastasize). The recurrence has caused some to consider that the surgical removal activates a resting (latent) viral component within the apparently normal skin around the edges of the tumor. Because of this, many times a veterinarian will opt to not treat the sarcoid at all, only leave it alone unless it is inflamed or causing the horse pain.


Living and Management


Some research suggests that a vaccine or anti-viral treatment might be a possibility for this condition. Further study is needed to determine if this will be effective in the future. Removal of sarcoids may help to control the disease, but will not completely cure the condition.




As no vaccine currently exists, there is no commercial preventative available for sarcoids. However, wound management is critical for horses, especially during fly season.