EQUUS - - Eq Medicalfro­nt -

A re­cent Swiss study sug­gests that a “wait and see” ap­proach may be jus­ti­fied for younger horses with small, sta­ble sar­coids be­cause a large per­cent­age of the tu­mors spon­ta­neously regress with­out treat­ment.

Sar­coids, the most com­mon skin tu­mors of horses, are caused by the bovine pa­pil­lo­mavirus, but the mode of trans­mis­sion is not fully un­der­stood. Treat­ments in­clude sur­gi­cal ex­ci­sion, freez­ing, chemo­ther­apy and an­tivi­ral drugs, but none are con­sis­tently suc­cess­ful.

Re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Bern tracked 61 3-year-old Franches-Mon­tagnes horses with “milder man­i­fes­ta­tions” of sar­coid tu­mors, along with a con­trol group of 75 sar­coid-free horses of the same breed and age. Each horse was ex­am­ined twice over a five- to seven-year pe­riod, and own­ers or care­tak­ers were asked to fill out ques­tion­naires.

The re­searchers found that 38 (62 per­cent) of the horses who had sar­coids when the study pe­riod be­gan were free of the tu­mors at

their se­cond exam. Of those horses, 29 had re­ceived no treat­ment, mean­ing the tu­mors re­gressed on their own. Oc­cult tu­mors---typ­i­cally flat, gray and hair­less ---were most likely to spon­ta­neously regress, go­ing away on their own 65 per­cent of the time. Ver­ru­cous sar­coids---which have a wart-like ap­pear­ance--dis­ap­peared with­out treat­ment 32 per­cent of the time. The re­searchers could iden­tify no en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tor that would have caused the tu­mors to sub­side.

Not­ing they were sur­prised at the high level of spon­ta­neous re­gres­sion of the tu­mors, the re­searchers ad­vise cau­tion when in­ter­pret­ing re­sults of non-con­trol group stud­ies of sar­coid treat­ments. They em­pha­size, how­ever, that own­ers must closely mon­i­tor sar­coids for any in­crease in size---tu­mors that show rapid and ag­gres­sive growth are best ad­dressed by a ve­teri­nar­ian.

Ref­er­ence: “Clin­i­cal course of sar­coids in 61 Franches-Mon­tagnes horses over a 5-7 year pe­riod,” Ve­teri­nary Quar­terly, De­cem­ber 2016

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