The vet will assess the location, size and type of sarcoid on your horse and advise on the best course of treatment. There is still research ongoing as to which treatment method for sarcoids has the best results for preventing the sarcoid from coming back however, the two treatment options which are most commonly used are laser therapy and cytotoxic cream.
When your vet suspects the presence of a sarcoid, a picture of the lesion may be taken and sent to a specialist team at Liverpool University who will advise a treatment protocol.
Removal of a sarcoid using laser therapy is a surgical procedure and may be completed under sedation or general anaesthetic depending on the location and size of the sarcoid.
Following surgery, a large wound will be visible where the sarcoid was removed. Topical creams may be dispensed following the surgery in order to help kill any microscopic sarcoid cells which may be left over at the edges of the wound or in the deep aspects of the wound.
The most successful and cost-effective topical treatment is a cytotoxic cream (AW4-LUDES).
The AW4-LUDES cream is extremely toxic and it is only available to vets. Treatment often consists of a course of 3-6 applications, which will be done by your vet. Sedation may be required for these applications depending on the location of the sarcoid and temperament of the horse.
During treatment, horses may develop swelling and ulceration of the area. This is painful and horses may become dull. This is part of the treatment and normally of short duration.
Pain killers can be administered to decrease discomfort and inflammation.
The treated sarcoid will change appearance and become black and hard and then will gradually drop off. Please remember that sarcoids will often look worse before they get better. Sarcoids in difficult areas, such as around eyes, may need a different treatment (BCG injections or radiation therapy) due to the sensitive location.
It is very important that, if you suspect your horse has a sarcoid, you do not try to treat it with home-remedies. Sarcoids can be very reactive tumours and application of home-remedy treatments have been shown to cause sarcoids to increase in size and become more aggressive.
For additional information regarding sarcoids in horses, please visit equinesarcoids.co.uk.