I have a 20 year old gray Egyptian Arab. He has 6 melanomas; 2 in his mouth, 4 in his sheath. My personal vet said that he would need surgery only if they grew. My question is that even if they do not grow what would be the cheapest way to treat them and what would be the most effective way to prevent more without paying a fortune? Thanks for any help at all. CB, North Carolina

Dear CB,

Managing melanomas in horses can be controversial. Although these skin tumors are generally considered benign in gray horses such as yours, that doesn’t mean they don’t lead to problems. It just means they don’t aggressively invade local tissue or spread throughout the body (metastasize). But melanomas inside the mouth and sheath could obstruct normal bodily functions or get irritated and chronically ooze. And because most of them DO eventually grow larger, many veterinarians will advise you to treat them now–while they’re small and causing no harm—rather than wait until they’re large and complicated. Treating them sooner rather than later will also be less expensive.

The fact that I’m going to share several treatment options is both good news and bad news. It’s good news because you and your veterinarian have several medical and surgical choices to select from in a wide variety of price ranges and aftercare needs. It’s bad news because this means no one method reliably works better than another. It’s not uncommon for a melanoma to be removed only to come back, and more than once. And unfortunately, I can find no information on preventing new ones from popping up.

I recommend you ask your veterinarian about the following options: traditional surgery, laser removal, radiation, cisplatin injections and oral cimetidine (an anti-ulcer medication). Keep in mind that combining options might give you the best outcome. Consider getting a second opinion from another veterinarian if your personal veterinarian is firm on the subject or not up-to-date on the latest treatments.

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

Posted in Diseases and Conditions

Recent Posts

One comment on “Melanomas
  1. Anna says:

    melonamas can be treated with Folate; Vitamin C; and Melatonin; my suggestion is:

    concerning the melanomas on the outside of the skin;
    put some Zinc Oxide creme on spots proect from UV ray

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Share it:
SmartPak is the Official Tack and Equipment Supplier of the USEF.
Members save 5% off all purchases.
You'll this

SmartCombo™ Senior Pellets

As Low As: $55.95
(54 reviews)
Have questions? Contact us »
Connect with us:

Meet the SmartPakers

Jen and Tally
Apparently I've been obsessed with horses since I was born, and I used to beg for pony rides on a regular basis. I started showing in 4-H, progressed to equitation and jumpers in high school and rode on the IHSA team in college where I also discovered the joys...

Learn more »

Read our blog

Ask the Vet
Every week our staff veterinarian, Dr. Lydia Gray, answers tough horse health questions from riders just like you.

Read her latest answer now »

Healthy horses, happy riders.
SmartPak is committed to a greener planet.
Sign Up Now!
Free Catalog Get Yours Now!

SmartPak Equine is the premier online provider of horse supplies and equine supplements.
Questions? Call us Toll-Free at 1-888-752-5171. © Copyright 2013 by SmartPak Equine LLC. All Rights reserved.