What is the best treatment for sarcoids in horses

Equine sarcoma is the most common tumor, accounting for approximately nine out of ten equine skin tumors. They are not cancerous (meaning they do not spread throughout the body), but they can grow and often spread and multiply locally. Their presence can cause irritation, deterioration of the reins (bleeding) and depreciation of the affected horse. Their surfaces bleed when tapped or rubbed, and it’s common to worry about flies and localized infections.


What do sarcoids look like?

Sarcomas can appear on almost any part of the body, but are most common on the head (especially around the eyes), under the abdomen, and around the vagina, chest, ears, and lower extremities. A single tumor or multiple sarcomas can occur in one area or many parts of the body.

There are different types of sarcomas, and their appearance varies widely. Flat (sessile) sarcomas appear as flat, round to oval areas with rough, hairless, irregular skin. The skin feels a little thick. Fibroblast sarcomas are irregular round, raised, firm lumps. They are usually smooth and hairless on at least part of their surface, but smaller ones are sometimes covered with normal-looking skin. If the surface is damaged, or usually after normal growth, the tumor can ulcerate and bleed, causing a scab. Verrucous sarcomas are verrucous-like with an irregular surface. A horse can have different types of sarcoma at the same time, or a mixture of types. Sarcomas can grow very large (over 8-10 cm (3.1-3.9 in)), but most remain small.

Sarcomas may resemble other skin tumors in appearance (eg, fibroids, mast cell tumors, and nonpigmented melanomas), so it is necessary to submit the sample (biopsy) or the entire tumor for analysis in order to make an accurate diagnosis. If possible, it is usually best to first remove the entire tumor for laboratory testing. This avoids a second surgical intervention after diagnosis and avoids trauma to a tumor that is still “in situ” and that could facilitate its spread.

Why does sarcoids occur?

There is strong evidence to support the idea that sarcomas are caused by viral infections. The theory explains how sarcomas arise in the first place and how they spread. Some genetic families appear to be more prone to sarcoma than others, but there is no difference in susceptibility between horses of different coat colors. Some breeds may be more susceptible than others.

“Pride Flesh” is not uncommon, i.e. H. The lush granulation tissue that often forms during equine wound healing transforms into sarcoma.

What treatments are available?

There are several options for treating sarcomas, and more than one treatment can be used at a time. It is important to remember that sarcomas can easily reappear at or near the site of removal. The choice of treatment depends on several factors:

  • Number and size of sarcomas present
  • Affected areas of horses
  • Available facilities and medications
  • financial considerations

What treatments are available?


The sarcoma can usually be removed by incising the sarcoma and suturing the resulting wound after desensitization with local anesthesia. This is easily achieved when there is only one or a few tumors and there is enough free skin afterwards to close the wound. A tiny sarcoma can be removed, leaving a small open wound that heals with granulation. About 50% of sarcomas treated in this way will grow again.

Attach ligatures or rubber bands

Most sarcomas, especially those with a short stalk or neck, can be removed by tying a ligature or attaching an “elastic” loop around its base. The ligature cuts off the tumor’s blood supply and usually dies or falls off after 10 days to two weeks. This approach can be used for short-term control of larger sarcomas in the hind legs or inside of the abdomen, but usually does not resolve the problem long-term. The most commonly used system uses a special applicator to apply a small strong rubber ring (elastic ring). There may be some local swelling after application, but it usually subsides after the nodule falls off.

Cryosurgery (cryosurgery)

Sarcomas can be frozen using liquid nitrogen or other suitable freezing medium, resulting in tissue death. If the sarcoma is large, most of the sarcoma can be removed first and only the base frozen. This method is more effective at preventing recurrence than surgery alone, but often leads to the formation of white hair patches due to damaged hair follicles.

Laser Treatment

Where feasible, surgical laser treatment allows removal of the majority of the sarcoma and erosion of the base in one step, or erosion of the base after removal of the majority of the sarcoma. Bleeding is minimal as the tissue is burned, but healing may be slow. Scarring forms, but hair color is usually unaffected.

Radioactive beads or wires

This highly specialized technique is not widely used, but is particularly effective for lid sarcomas that require lid preservation. Radiation therapy can shrink tumors and destroy the eyelid. This form of processing must be carried out under specially approved conditions.

BCG vaccination

BCG is a tuberculosis vaccine made from Mycobacterium bovis. It can be injected into the sarcoma and often produces beneficial results. Multiple injections over weeks or months may be required. This treatment is designed to induce an immune response in the horse’s body to destroy or slough off the sarcoma tissue. It is most commonly used for eyelid tumors because when it is effective, it can save the eyelid. There may be no response for several weeks after the first injection. Initial swelling and skin lesions after injection are common, and deaths from anaphylactic shock reactions to the vaccine have rarely been reported. Horses treated with BCG should be given anti-inflammatory medication prior to any treatment.


Specialized cytotoxic (tissue-killing) creams are often used to treat sarcomas. These attack abnormal cells in sarcomas and are often very effective, but can also damage healthy tissue. They must be used with great care, especially on bone areas or on blood vessels and nerves. They can be used for smaller, flat sarcomas or larger sarcomas after surgical debulking. The cream should only be given to veterinarians and used. Another cytotoxic drug (cisplatin) is available, but must be injected into the sarcoma to be effective. This is another highly specialized technique, as the dose and injection pattern will vary with the size and shape of the sarcoma. Both techniques cause local inflammation, and scarring depends on the size and location of the sarcoma.

Regardless of the treatment option chosen, some sarcomas may take months to remove, and the effects may not be permanent. If a new sarcoma develops, treatment may need to be repeated or modified. This treatment can be expensive.

Should I buy a horse with sarcoma?

Apart from animal welfare considerations, sarcoma affects the potential value of a horse or pony in two main ways:

  • If they interfere with the reins or are bumped during exercise, they can degrade the performance of the horse or pony.
  • If the mare has sarcomas between the hind legs or on the udder, the foal may pat or suck on them while nursing.
  • Their removal or treatment can be expensive if prolonged or repeated treatments are required.
  • These considerations need to be weighed against the value of the horse and its other qualities or potential.


Sarcomas are much more important than “just a few lumps” and are difficult and expensive to treat. If you think your horse or pony has one or more types of sarcoma, you should consult your veterinarian for advice. The best results are obtained when a diagnosis is made and appropriate treatment is started early. When the sarcoma is removed or treated when it is very young, the scarring is less noticeable.

People also ask

Do sarcoids need removing?

Nodular sarcoids often respond well to surgical removal. In many of these cases, surgery can be carried out in the field under sedation and local anaesthetic, others may require a general anaesthetic.

Are sarcoids contagious to other horses?

Sarcoids seem to be contagious from horse to horse, but researchers don’t understand how they are transmitted. And not all horses in a herd will get sarcoids even if several horses have them. These growths are sometimes mistaken for warts and vice versa. “Sarcoid can look like many different things.

Can sarcoids on horses fall off?

The sarcoid will die slowly over a few weeks and will then fall off leaving an open wound. The wound can be much larger than expected as the skin draws back from the site. Ligation is much more successful when combined with topical treatments that will kill the root as well as the superficial mass.

Is Turmeric Good for sarcoids?

Turmeric has been used for hundreds of years in both Chinese and Indian medicine as an anti-inflammatory; of late, it has been included in several anti-inflammatory supplements for horses, as well. The key ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which has also been used in horses to manage sarcoids.

Are equine Sarcoids painful?

They can affect all breeds, at any age (although most cases arise in young horses), and occur in both sexes. All equid species are affected (including donkeys and even zebras). Typically, sarcoids are not painful or itchy, but they are locally invasive, persistent, and progressive.

Do sarcoids always come back?

Although several treatments are available, there is no magic cure for sarcoids and there is always a high risk of recurrence. Treatment will depend on the position, size and number of sarcoids. Overall the prognosis is poor because of their tendency to recur despite treatment, which can become costly.

How do you get rid of a horse sarcoid?

Sarcoids, the most common skin tumor of horses, are believed to be caused by the bovine papilloma virus. They can be treated with chemotherapy drugs, such as cisplatin, or removed surgically or with lasers. However, Espy says, if any trace of a growth remains, the sarcoids will return.

How do you prevent sarcoids in horses?

Possible treatments

  1. Banding with rubber rings. …
  2. Freezing with liquid (cryosurgery) …
  3. Topical medication. …
  4. Chemotherapy drugs, applied as a cream onto the sarcoid. …
  5. Chemotherapy drugs, injected into the sarcoid. …
  6. Surgical excision. …
  7. Injection with BCG vaccine. …
  8. Implantation of radioactive wires.

What do equine Sarcoids look like?

Verrucose Sarcoid Verrucous sarcoids usually have a grey, scaly or warty appearance. This is why some people used to call them equine warts (which is inapproriate given that they are actually a type of skin cancer!) Verrucous sarcoids frequently coalesce into larger lesions and affect large areas.

How do you treat sarcoids in horses naturally?

Examples of beneficial nutritional supplements to support healthy skin include Bio-Bloom PS (Bio-Bloom HF in Australia) and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil products such as EO•3. Fish oils also have natural anti-inflammatory properties that could benefit horses with sarcoids or other skin tumors.

Can you band a sarcoid?

Banding. Special thick elastic bands are applied to the stalk of the tumour to cut off the blood supply to the main bulk. These can be effective, but require a certain shape and size of tumour, and it can take some time for the sarcoid to fall off. Re-growth may be more common with this method.

How much curcumin do you give a horse?

A dose of up to 2.4 g per day of turmeric in horses has been suggested as safe. In research studies, horses have been supplemented with 12 – 20 g per day of turmeric for short periods of time. without adverse effects.

Is turmeric toxic to horses?

“Turmeric is suitable for horses suffering from stiff joints and itchy skin conditions, as well as offering support to the digestive system,” says Becky Darby, product advisor at Global Herbs. “A lot of people feed it to provide support to horses whose joints are under stress.”

How do you give turmeric to horses?

Add a dessert spoon (to start with) of TURMERIC POWDER to your cup. Add approximately 16 grinds of freshly ground cracked pepper AND some 5-10 mls of oil (coconut, olive or linseed) to your turmeric powder. Add some water and blend into a paste that can be mixed through the bulk of your horses feed.

Would you buy a horse with occult sarcoids?

Certain sarcoids such as occult sarcoids are also notoriously difficult to treat. Horses with multiple sarcoids usually present more of a problem for me when it comes to passing them suitable for purchase at a vetting. Firstly more sarcoids will cost more to treat and likely take longer and require more time off work.

Are equine Sarcoids cancerous?

Sarcoid is a common disease in all types of horses with 2-8% of horses being affected. Sarcoid is a form of skin cancer. Sarcoids can occur anywhere on the skin, although some parts of the body are more likely to develop sarcoids than others.

Can horses be born with sarcoids?

Some horses are genetically predisposed to developing sarcoids. There is currently no evidence that sarcoids can be transmitted from one horse to another, however if a horse is predisposed to sarcoids then having one sarcoid will increase the risk of another sarcoid developing on the affected horse.

Can sarcoids in horses be cured?

Most skin lumps in horses that are non-painful and non-itchy are sarcoids, whereas painful lumps are often due to infection and itchy lumps to allergies. Sarcoids do not usually self-cure and affected horses often develop multiple sarcoids at once or serially.

What is Liverpool cream?

AW4-LUDES cream, often simply known as ‘Liverpool sarcoid cream’ or as ‘Knottenbelt’s sarcoid cream’ (after its creator Derek Knottenbelt from Liverpool University Vet School), is a topical chemotherapy treatment with the active ingredient being 5-fluorouracil.

How do I use XXterra?

How To Use: Apply XXterra (3-5 mm thick layer) to the sarcoid daily for 4-6 days. When a swelling and superficial wound appears, stop applying. If the process stops, reapply XXterra for a couple of days.

How do you use XXterra on a horse?


Xxterra Directions: For optimal use, apply to sarcoid once daily for 4 days. Let rest for 7-10 days. Portion application by covering the entire sarcoid as well as the surrounding perimeter (about half an inch). Additional applications may be required, repeat if needed.

Do Sarcoids bleed?

Fibroblastic Sarcoid – have fleshy, ulcerated appearance so bleed easily. May occur at the site of wounds as well as on the face and legs. They can look like an ulcerated “bunch of grapes”. These often enlarge at speed.

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