Equine Melanomas are usually slow-growing and due to pigmentation density, they affect mostly grey or white horses. Melanomas can be divided into two different types, benign or malignant, depending on their appearance and activity. Most equine melanomas arebenign.
Horses can develop melanomas at any age but they are more prevalent as the horse ages – a large percentage of grey or white horses can be expected to have a melanoma by around the age of 15. Generally they are not painful.
The breeds most commonly affected are Arabian Horses, Quarter Horses, and Thoroughbreds with the grey of these breeds being more susceptible.
CAUSES OF EQUINE MELANOMA
Excess melanin in the skin is the most common cause of equine melanoma. Due to the horse having the grey gene, the excess melanin is not evenly distributed throughout the horse's hair but instead, forms into clumps of cells which in turn become melanomas.
EQUINE MELANOMA SYMPTOMS
Smooth, hard, solid round black lumps usually located around the eyes, around the neck, near the base of the ears, under the tail and around the vulva or rectum.
Equine melanomas usually grow very slowly but on occasion, they can spread and grow so it is important to always have them checked by the vet.
TREATMENT OF EQUINE MELANOMA
Ask your vet to do a biopsy to ascertain an accurate diagnosis.
Treatments for equine melanomas range from leaving them alone and doing nothing to tissue-based vaccines, radiation, anti-ulcer tumour-shrinking medications - such as Cimetidine/ Cisplatin, Frankincense Oil applied topically, Surgical excision, Laser surgery and for the future, Gene Therapy.