Did You Know? All About Melanoma

Written by Monday, 02 October 2017 13:39
Did You Know? All About Melanoma Did You Know? All About Melanoma journeyofanamateureventer

Did you know that 80% of grey horses will get melanomas at some point in their life?

A few months ago we made the startling discovery of a few small black lumps over Archie’s tail, around his bottom and on his sheath. Being grey he is of course at significant risk of developing melanomas in his lifetime but being 7 years old I was surprised to see so many. My first instinct (after a confirmed diagnosis from the vet and initial consultation regarding treatment options) was of course to head straight online to investigate the existing evidence for various treatments. Simply put melanomas in grey horses are benign, although they can become malignant, and usually cause local issues due to pressure or damage to surrounding structures. They can often result in problems with fitting tack, particularly if they are on the face. Single or large problematic melanomas are often removed surgically, however for horses with multiple small melanomas there are some exciting new treatment options.

Archie was carted off to Oakham veterinary hospital after I read about the “Oncept” melanoma vaccine. A relatively new treatment for horses, the vaccine was originally created for dogs who also suffer with the same issue of benign melanomas. So how does it work and above all does it work?

The vaccine targets tyrosinase, a protein found in melanoma cells. This protein is the enzyme which is the “rate-limiting step”, i.e the limiting factor, which controls production of melanin (the pigment produced by melanoma cells). The vaccine acts by triggering the horse’s body to produce an immune response again the protein. This means that the horse’s own immune system targets the abnormal cells, both those that are visible and those that you cannot see. As a fairly new treatment the data available regarding long term effectiveness and side effects and is limited, but in an area of equine medicine where there is little else of proven benefit it is an exciting new option in the battle against melanomas.

I am delighted to say that Archie responded well to the course of injections, and although it’s early days in his treatment we are full of hope that we have stopped this tricky beast in it’s tracks.

A huge thank you to Oakham Veterinary hospital, and in particular our friendly vet Mark, for their support and kindness during the treatment.
If you are looking for further information on Oncept or Melanomas theses links can get you started… (Please always consult your vet for diagnosis and advice)
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog

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  • Comment Link Wendy Hill Wednesday, 28 March 2018 13:06 posted by Wendy Hill

    Are black horses considered on the 'grey spectrum'

  • Comment Link Julie Moore Tuesday, 03 October 2017 14:14 posted by Julie Moore

    Hadn't heard of that treatment before - so thanks for posting. Wishing Archie all the best and please keep us updated :)