All About Sarcoids

They are a transmissable tumour which we think is caused by a virus similar to the cattle Papiloma Virus or the wart virus.

Is a Sarcoid a cancer?
It is not an actual true cancer, but is an uncontrolled growth so has similar properties of cancer.

How is a sarcoid transmitted?
It is believed to be transmitted by flies or by direct contact, but it doesn’t necessarily mean if one horse has them in the paddock any of the other horses will get them.

There are two forms of Sarcoids, a flat form & a lumpy form & on occasion you can have a mixture of the two. The sarcoid itself can be slow growing or fast growing, they can be dormant for years then grow rapidly all of a sudden. Disturbance of a quiescent (dormant) sarcoid can cause rapid growth.

Can they be treated?
Yes. There is a multitude of treatments for them, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be effective on all horses. The choice of treatment depends on the size, type, area on horse & sometimes the budget.

Some of the treatments are:

  • Removal – surgically.
  • Freezing – with liquid nitrogen, (also used for freeze branding & on skin cancers in humans).
  • Sarcoid Ointment – can only be applied by a vet because of the toxic ingredients. This involves approximately 3 treatments over 2 weeks, the time frame depends on the sarcoids reaction to the ointment.
  • Cysplatin – cancer drug, this & various other cancer durgs have been tried.
  • Immune implantation – when a piece of the sarcoid is frozen then implanted (elsewhere) into the patient to cause an immune reaction & from this the body should fight off the virus/tumour itself. Note- this treatment is still experimental.
  • Accupuncture – to irritate them (David has heard of this, but not seen it).
  • Wart Ointments etc, etc, etc

Note: There are probably many more other treatments that have not been mentioned above. Your veterinarian will advise you on the best treatment plan for your horses’ particular sarcoid.

In some cases one of these treatment methods will give you a successful outcome, at times a combination of the above will be effective and occasionally none of the above will be successful.