How Long Can A Horse Live With Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma is a prevailing type of skin cancer in horses. It starts as an unnoticeable bump on the un-pigmented skin areas and can be fatal for your horse if remains overlooked for a long time. However, the horse’s life span after getting squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) depends on several factors. It is uncertain whether a specific number of years or time a horse can live suffering from squamous cell carcinoma.

The living conditions of a horse suffering from SCC depend upon diagnosis, affected organs, and level of its spread to other associated organs. Early diagnosis and combination of different treatment methods have proven recovery rates up to 90%.

An equestrian should know different types, most affected body parts, signs, and squamous cell carcinoma symptoms. Here are some necessary things to know about this prevalent skin cancer of horses.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

“Squamous cell” identifies a specific type of epithelium (Outer skin layer) found at different areas of our body like un-pigmented skin of the eyes, penile skin, and vaginal folds. Due to the flat shape of epithelium, it has a lower level of keratin, a hard protective pigment of the skin. Carcinoma identifies the cancerous growth of the skin cells.

In horses, squamous cell carcinomas usually develop at the junction of skin and mucus membranes. The most affected organ is the eye. Life conditions of the horse become worst due to metastasizing property of the SCC. For example, when a tumor develops at the eye’s conjunctiva, it spreads to the associated lymph nodes and then to other organs.

Types Of Carcinomas

Proliferative Somatic Cell Carcinoma: This type of SCC usually occurs at the eyelids and penile skin of the equines. Incidents of affected corneal lining with proliferative cancerous mass have also been seen.

Destructive Somatic Cell Carcinoma: A high level of malignancy characterizes it. It spreads to different vital organs like the lungs and digestive tract after starting as an unnoticeable tumor.

Ulcerative Somatic Cell Carcinoma: This type causes the erosion of skin and leads to ulcer formation. Primarily the affected parts include eyelids, anal, and clitoral mucosa.

Causes of Somatic Cell Carcinoma

The predisposing factors of SCC can be both genetic and environmental. The most accepted cause of carcinomas in horses is high exposure to UV radiation. These radiations mainly affect the skin with low pigmentation.

Genetic causes of SCC in horses have also been found. Studies reported that some genetic mutations as the cause of ocular somatic cell carcinoma in horses.

Some horse breeds like Appaloosa, which have low pigmentation around their eyes, are more prone to ocular carcinomas.

Diagnosis Somatic Cell Carcinoma

Early diagnosis is the most crucial factor which can prevent aggravating conditions in horse life. If carcinomas are diagnosed at their start, they can be removed surgically. Veterinarians also take complete physical check-ups to find if there is another affected body part. Biopsies and blood work are usually performed to check the level of metastasis.

How Serious Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Equine squamous cell carcinoma could cause severe damage to horse health if not diagnosed at its early stage. However, most of the cases report a 90% survival rate. In metastasis, different surgical and therapeutic techniques are used. Chemotherapy and cryotherapy are also used to complement the treatment and to avoid its reoccurrence.