What are Sarcoids?

The word sarcoid can deliver a shiver to any horse owner no matter how small. There are a lot of myths around what they are and how to treat them which doesn’t help if your horse has developed one. Below we will go through the types, diagnosis and treatments available to you and the latest veterinary advice.  

Firstly, what is a sarcoid? They are a skin tumour (Fibrosarcoma) generally benign and non-malignant, meaning they don’t spread throughout the body. They are wart like in appearance and can form on any part of the horse’s skin but are more commonly found on the chest, groin, sheath or face. A sarcoid can vary in size, shape and appearance, they can be quite annoying for both horse and rider if they are positioned in an area that interferes with tack or rugs. Horses of any breed or age can develop a sarcoid and if a horse does, they are more susceptible to get more.  


  • Occult – circular in appearance, hairless area and can be hard to recognise. 
  • Nodular – single or multiple firm round nodules, that can vary in size, and become ulcerated. 
  • Verrucous – greyish, wart like in appearance, can appear flaky and skin can crack around the area.  
  • Fibroblastic – fast growing fleshy like mass, can ulcerate and easily bleeds if knocked. 
  • Malevolent – very aggressive, grows and spreads rapidly. Nodular type lesions and can group together. Not as common as other types.  
  • Mixed Sarcoids – lesion appears like 2 or more different types of sarcoids. 


  • Visual inspection by veterinarian 
  • Biopsy – however this done with caution and is rarely performed, it can sometimes irritate the sarcoid causing it to grow. 

Treatments: (under veterinary supervision) 

  • Freezing (Cryosurgery) 
  • Laser 
  • Radioactive Beads (Cisplatin Beads) 
  • BCG Vaccine 
  • Chemotherapy creams  
  • Surgery 

Sarcoids are accessed individually for each horse and your veterinarian will take that into account when discussing a treatment plan with you. Things they will take into consideration are the number and size of the sarcoid, the position it appears on your horse, financial costs and recovery times/facilities. Unfortunately, sarcoids can be notoriously hard to treat and may often reoccur. Treatment can be slow so be prepared to be patient, you vet is there to help you and will answer any questions you may have, providing all the support you and your horse need.   

Ref: www.randwickequine.com.au/sites/default/files/uploadedfiles/rec-august_newsletter_pdf 



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