Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Neoplasia, Tumor or Cancer, Head or Face

Tumors of the face and head are fairly common in horses and can only be definitively diagnosed with biopsy.

The most common tumors found on the head or face are sarcoid and squamous cell carcinoma, however other rarer types of tumors also occur in this area.

Tumors of the head and face most commonly develop around or involving the eye, but can develop anywhere in this area. The specific diagnosis determines the appropriate treatment and prognosis.

Like tumors elsewhere, those of the head or face are usually treated surgically or with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a variety of other treatments. The recommended treatment depends on the location and type of tumor, which is usually determined with a biopsy and microscopic examination by a veterinary pathologist.


  • What are the treatment options?
  • For this particular tumor, what is the appx. cost, success rate, recurrence rate and any side effects or significant complications?

    The only case in which there is any prevention strategy is in horses that lack pigment.

    As with fair-skinned people, protect these horses from excessive exposure to UV light with changes in management and stabling (provide shelter during the daytime) and apply a face mask.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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