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Patient Spotlight: Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Snickers is a 23 year old Thoroughbred gelding. Recently he developed a small mass at the corner of his eye. To determine what was the cause of the mass, Dr. Wilson performed a cytology and biopsy. Unfortunately, the results showed that Snickers has Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer in horses. Exposure to sunlight is the predominant risk factor associated with this type of cancer. White horses (or horses with white on them) are most predisposed although squamous cell carcinoma can also occur in horses with color especially at mucocutaneous junctions like the eye or rectum. For white horses, it’s so important to provide protection from sunlight! Ways to do this include UV protecting fly masks, sunscreen, or even night turn out!

If you see a skin tumor that is rapidly growing, the best option is to have your vet examine it and possibly send off some lab work that will help you get a diagnosis. This can guide treatment options and give your horse the best chance at living a long and healthy life!

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