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Cancer in Horses

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  • Cancer in Horses

    So I am slowly coming out of my denial that my mare has cancer. I have to take another size photo for comparison next week but the reality is hitting me hard that I will most likely have to euthanize her before Christmas. She is 18 this year and I thought I would have her for at least a few more years. Long enough to move back to North Carolina with me in two years time when I retire from the Navy. But it isn't looking like that will be how our story ends together.

    It started out as what I thought was a swelling for some unknown injury on the underside of her jaw. But the swelling would not go down and it was hard more akin to bone. The vet was due out for annual fall shots so I had her x-ray it while she was at the farm.

    The x-ray showed a fracture but the cause was inconclusive as again there was no sign of injury. Later, after the vet left me with instructions to watch and take photos once a week, I broke out the clippers hoping there was something under the long winter fur that would point towards a freak accident. But there was nothing there to suggest she had injured herself.

    I try not to look at it every day, as one it causes anxiety, and two I'll get a better sense if the area is growing in size. So I took a more than glance over it last night. I have been trying very hard to stay positive but it is definitely larger.

    I'll wait another week to be sure but then the vet and I will have to make a plan.

    Anyone else have a similar case or experience?

  • #2
    Is there any other evidence other than the the fact that the spot is growing, for thinking this is cancer?

    Did the vet do bloodwork? It might be that the fracture is newer than you think, and is still in the remodeling phase.

    I would want the blood work before I started to think about the possibilities. See what it says. Maybe try to do a biopsy on the area as well. Not to get your hopes up - it could very well be cancer - but I would want all the facts before making a decision of this magnitude.


    • #3
      I had a somewhat similar case with my horse. He had Squamous cell carcinoma just below his eyelid. He had a lesion that would not heal and when the second opinion vet came out she took a biopsy sample that came back positive. Scheduled surgery at NC State, where they did a CT before the surgery. The CT reveled it had spread to his jaw and severely degraded the bone. It had also invaded his cranial cavity and was compressing on his skull. He did not leave the vet school as I couldn't allow him to risk a fractured jaw (just me personally). If you haven't done a biopsy I would do one! I have a friend that is a veterinarian oncologist and she reviewed his CT and autopsy and told me his "good days" were gone. He seemed mostly normal, although in hindsight aside from some weight loss he was a little more drowsy. He still moved about freely the night before he went in but part of me wishes I had been able to get him in sooner even though he would have still been euthanized.

      Hugs to you and jingles your horse can be treated (if that is the route you chose). It sucks and it hurts I know! If you need someone to talk to feel free to message me.
      Lovebug "Bugs" 2006-2019


      • #4
        Update: My drama queen of a mare had to have THE most rare type of cancer an equine can have. My mare does indeed have an osteosarcoma. In other words bone cancer. It’s non-operable and all I can do is make her last days the happiest that I’m able.

        as an aside I posted under my alter without realizing it.
        Eventing at Midnight Blog

        Rodan and Fields, Ask Me About it
        A Measure of Grace Blog


        • #5
          So sorry Cameraine. Enjoy every day you have with her. One of the hardest things about loving a horse is letting them go. Hugs!


          • #6
            I'm so very sorry. Hugs to both of you!
            "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." —Bradley Trevor Greive


            • #7
              So sorry. I lost a once in a lifetime horse to cancer. Hugs.
              ~~Some days are a total waste of makeup.~~


              • #8
                I am so sorry. Hug her, love her, spoil her. And hugs and jingles to you.


                • #9
                  I am so sorry for you and your mare. May her last days be filled with love and treats.


                  • #10
                    I'm so sorry to hear. I came into this post with lots of positivity saying how well tolerated chemotherapy is in horses. But then my heart sank reading the news.

                    Lots of love for her and you until the end of her days.
                    Not my circus, not my monkeys!


                    • #11
                      So sorry. I retired what I think most would refer to as my "heart horse" when he was 20, due to arthritis. Two years after retirement, he dramatically lost weight despite anything we could do. Vets diagnosed lymphoma. They said he wasn't in any particular pain, but to monitor him. About six months later, he had episodes of mild colic, started running fevers., etc. Antibiotics got the fever down, but vets said he would continue to have such episodes. When he stopped eating.....the decision was made. I had thought I'd have him a long time, rideable or not (he was rideable at the walk) because his dam lived to be 38, his sire 29 - long lived horses. BUT.... Miss him still. We all know you will make her last days as comfortable and happy as possible.


                      • #12
                        I lost my heart horse Bear to cancer years ago. I am so sorry CANCER SUCKS!
                        I\'m not crazy. I\'m just a little unwell.