Early assessment and treatment of many skin growths especially sarcoids can frequently produce excellent results. They are regarded as being semi-malignant because they only form seedlings in the immediate surroundings but also have malignant properties because of skin invasion and a tendency to recur after removal by surgery, burning or freezing. They may grow rapidly but may also remain static for considerable periods of time.
It is thought that the Bovine Papilloma Virus is the cause of sarcoids. For this reason my herbal systemic treatment includes anti-viral herbs as well as adaptogens (herbs that balance the immune system through the endocrine system) and herbs with anti-tumour properties. This combination has been seen to be most effective in my practice over many years.
Topical treatment includes a selection of anti-tumour herbs mixed into an organic balm for easy application to the affected areas.
It is essential that sarcoids are treated both systemically and topically at the same time. Periods of treatment vary with the individual horse.
CASE HISTORY – Emma Schulz’s Felicity
This mare developed sarcoids one on the off side flank and two on the near hind gaskin. Emma advised that after two weeks on the oral and topical treatment, all the sarcoids were showing great improvement and after another two weeks they were smooth to the touch, just needing a bit more hair growth. These pictures, kindly provided by Emma, illustrate the story.
OFF SIDE FLANK
This was an excellent result as it can often take a lot more time to get rid of sarcoids. Prompt action is called for and the great benefit of professionally prescribed herbal medicine is that it is non-invasive and extremely affordable.
For horse owners interested in preventive strategies, the best thing you can do is to keep your horses’ immune systems in optimum working order, all the time. This can be achieved by feeding a VF Natural Diet and boosting the immune system when needed.
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FROM THE COMPLETE HORSE HERBAL
An understanding of the nature of cancer, tumours and growths common in horses will help owners to determine treatment options and also appreciate preventive strategies.
“Any swelling of an abnormal or unusual character on the body may be described as a tumour, a cancer, a growth or a cyst. The same terms are used to describe internal swellings, although as these are usually unobserved, they are not appreciated to the same extent as those occurring on the surface of or just below the skin.” (Veterinary Notes for Horse Owners)
It is important to understand that not all lumps are cancers and that not all cancers produce lumps. These swellings represent disorderly growth of cells referred to as cancer, tumours or growths and further differentiated as either malignant or benign. Those with restricted growth are usually benign whereas those of an invasive nature are usually malignant.
Benign growths are restricted to a particular area and rarely cause death unless they happen to obstruct some other function of the body. Malignant growths are serious because they invade the tissues in which they grow as well as forming seedlings, also known as metastases, which may be carried in the blood or lymph to other parts of the body where they form similar growths.
Tumours arise in any part of the body, but the skin is the most common site in horses. They derive their name from the tissue of which they are composed. In the horse the most common malignant growths are carcinoma, lymphosarcoma and melanosarcoma.
Melanosarcoma and melanoma both originate in the skin and contain the pigment melanin. Melanosarcomas are malignant and spread rapidly to many parts of the body. The benign form is known as melanoma. Grey horses are genetically pre-disposed to both of these conditions.
A biopsy determines whether a growth is benign or malignant and the type of cells of which it is composed.
Carcinoma and lymphosarcoma are the other two common malignant cancers found in horses. Carcinoma originates from an epithelial surface and usually occurs in the sinuses of the head and lymphosarcoma, or malignant lymphoma, arises in blood forming tissue and may also occur in lymph glands.
© Victoria Ferguson