Sarcoids: A Cure on the Horizon

Courtesy of Kentucky Equine Research

Skin tumors known as sarcoids are a common health concern for horses. In the United Kingdom, for example, nearly 6% of the horse population suffers from a form of this disease. Historically, sarcoids have been difficult to treat, with no specific treatment being a cure-all.

From radiation therapy to topical creams, veterinarians and owners alike have felt the frustrations of sarcoid resilience. Recently, the medical world has reviewed a treatment modality known as electrochemotherapy in the hope that this may breathe life back into the battle against sarcoids.

One study* looked at the paired effects of injecting a chemotherapeutic drug with administration of electrical pulses into a sarcoid tumor. Twenty-three horses with cutaneous tumors, including 40 sarcoids, 3 squamous cell carcinomas, and 1 melanoma, were treated with multiple intralesional injections of cisplatin, which was then followed with several electrical pulses applied directly to the tumor. This method of treatment yielded a 93% success rate in regard to reduction and elimination of the tumor. In addition, excellent cosmetic results were achieved in 70% of all cases, with periorbital tumors (those situated near the eyes) displaying especially successful outcomes. Owners of show horses with periorbital tumors said they found the results particularly satisfying.

“Cisplatin, a commonly used chemotherapy drug, doesn’t always achieve the results needed when treating large tumors, and patients typically experience discomfort from side effects. Electrical pulses have been ingeniously considered in order to mimic natural circumstances of cell biology that activate cells to become permeable to their environment,” said Laura Petroski-Rose, B.V.M.S, a Kentucky Equine Research staff veterinarian.

“The electrical pulses stimulate the opening of gated channels that would otherwise be closed, thus allowing the chemotherapy drug to enter the tumor cells and destroy them,” she added. This method of treatment could not only decrease the side effects from chemotherapy but increase the success of reducing and curing many cutaneous cancers.

Because this disease triggers cell damage and causes inflammation at the site of the tumor, consider EO-3 and Nano-E in a horse’s treatment plan. EO-3 delivers the benefits of DHA and EPA, two omega-3 fatty acids that decrease the body’s inflammatory response while also bolstering the overall health and wellness of the skin and coat. Nano-E is a powerful antioxidant and is beneficial in protecting cells from oxidative damage resulting from cellular damage and inflammation.

*Relave, F., and M. Hartmann. The use of cisplatin-electrochemotherapy to treat cutaneous tumours in horses.