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Squamous cell carcinoma...

I have a gelding, 27 years old, tentatively DXd with squamous cell carcinoma on the end of his penis. The tumor appears to be huge (this is a very stoic horse who will not reveal pain until he can not ignore it). Surgery, at least at this point, is indicated, but that terrifies me at his age. I guess I am looking for others who have had the surgery advised (amputation of the end of the penis) with success and also those who have opted for other alternatives such as cisplatin injections. Any input, both good and bad, is appreciated. Thank you, Pam

We just had a Belgian/Hanoverian cross gelding with Squamous Cell on his 3rd eyelid do very well with minor surgery that removed the eyelid. We’re following it up with chemo-ointment for two weeks as per the ophthalmologist, but 2 other vets who did the surgery don’t even think that’s necessary since the margins were clear. He’s 100% like nothing ever happened and has made a full recovery in a month.

See if you can get it done standing (our guy was, even for an eye!) under sedation and get him some relief. I don’t think these things grow that fast in a horse as old as your guy, so he might have a good outcome. Hope so, and keep us posted!

LE, thank you for your reply. The vet who was out today actually suggested that standing surgery might be an option, but he is not the surgeon so don’t know if that is truly an option in this case.

I have been reading about chemo alternatives, I guess at this point it’s wait and see. :frowning:

Lady Eboshi, TY so much for your reply. The vet who was here today actually suggested that they “might” be able to do a standing surgery which would significantly cut the cost, also a concern, sad as that is. After researching all afternoon, I am also going to ask about cisplatin injections into the tumor itself, which studies have shown to be VERY successful, especially if they decide that he is not a surgical candidate.

We’ve done surgery (including colic surgeries; much more major) on horses that age and older. All have been successful this year. We did have a 3 year old try to tank on us this morning, but with quick action by the whole team, he was fine. Definitely nothing to do with age!

I would not hesitate to have the surgery done by a good surgoen and anesthesia team. He should have a full blood work up prior to surgery and a pack cell count just before be is prepped to go under. Talk to the surgoen about having the team “hand recover” or “rope recover” your horse if possible. Go to the hospital with the most surgical experience and an established team. It’s ok to ask how experienced the anesthesiologist is!

Good luck and let us know how everything goes!

Ps: drugs have improved greatly over the years and I think there is less risk than most people imagine. I recommend a conversation with the surgeon to get a good idea for your horse in his current condition (including physical exam and lab work). In the last year we haven’t lost a single horse to anesthesia and we did 5 surgeries just today, so we have pretty good numbers.

I had THE EXACT SAME SURGERY done on my 23 year old sainted school pony
last winter. He was in and out of the hospital in three days and astounded the vet with his rapid recovery. He was giving lessons a week later, and has recovered beautifully. When he drops you’d have to look hard to see that it’s not a “normal” penis…
They did lay him down, most likely because he is 12.3, and the surgeon is 6’4"!
I was a basket case before the surgery, but it’s resolved well and Snoop could care less about being “reduced”.

Our 28 year old had one also, the vet operated and took only the tumor out and used cysplatin injections on the spot three times.
It came back some months later and he took it out, again using the same drug.
It never came back, he was fine and then at 30, fat and sassy, playing around int the pasture, blew up his knee beyond repair.:cry:

The operations and injections of the drug didn’t have any side effects at all.
He didn’t itch or act uncomfortable at any time, it was a non-event.

I hope your horse will have as good results from whatever your vet does.

Bluey, do you mind if I ask how much it all cost? Unfortunately, that is also a concern. I wish it wasn’t. I was quoted $3-4K for the surgery alone.

Sunny’s eye cost about $750 for the eyelid surgery done standing, the chemo med was $75, and the eye specialist who came to the farm about $300.00.

We did him locally, but had we taken him to Tufts it would have been cheaper.
You might want to get a quote from the nearest major veterinary teaching hospital if there’s one within trailer range of your location.

I was putting Sunny’s chemo med in tonight, and said, "Dude! Be glad it’s just your eye and not your weenie!" :eek:

I’m betting your guy will do just fine! Jingles from our Sunny! :slight_smile:

[QUOTE=Damrock Farm;7019224]
Bluey, do you mind if I ask how much it all cost? Unfortunately, that is also a concern. I wish it wasn’t. I was quoted $3-4K for the surgery alone.[/QUOTE]

That was five years ago and it was all, both operations and treatments, he was kept a few days in the vet hospital after every operation, in case there were any problems, swelling or such, because we live one hour from there, below $1000, best I remember.

I would not know what it may be today, but maybe you can get a second quote from other vet clinics to compare?

Here you go, link to Willie’s Story

eventgroupie2 was on mid may, so you might pm/email etc if she doesn’t notice this thread :slight_smile:

[QUOTE=Damrock Farm;7019224]
Bluey, do you mind if I ask how much it all cost? Unfortunately, that is also a concern. I wish it wasn’t. I was quoted $3-4K for the surgery alone.[/QUOTE]

I’m guessing this is for general anesthesia. If they can do it standing that should cut back the cost considerably (like half of that).

The surgery on my pony cost $1,500. For everything.

Well, Rusty has an appointment for a second opinion with a surgeon I know very well and trust. He is concerned that a rectal exam wasn’t done, he said that will let him know if it’s spread into the lymph nodes. If it has, there is nothing to be done, he said the surgery for that would be very long,extremely invasive and with a very difficult recovery. He said point blank (one of the things I like about him, he doesn’t beat around the bush) that if it’s spread to the lymph nodes, he won’t even try to do the surgery. It’s simply too risky and at his age the recovery would be way too hard. As far as cisplatin, that’s generally used for much smaller tumors than what it appears that Rusty has. I am going to do some more research over the next days just in case Bill can’t do surgery on him, but I won’t let Rusty suffer. He deserves better. The bute for now is helping a lot and he’s also on antibiotics to fight any secondary infection there. Hopefully if the swelling goes down a little he will get some relief.

This surgeon said $1000-1500 is a much more accurate estimate, he said it wouldn’t even cost $3000 at Cornell or Rhinebeck unless they did a lot more than a simple amputation.

I’m sure they did, but did they biopsy the tumor? Years ago a vet diagnosed this on a school horse were I was taking lessons. The horse was hauled to the vet school for surgery where it was dicovered he just had a massive summer sore.
That said, a vet in our area does cryosurgery (freezing) on sarciods. Maybe that would be less expensive?

The vet I am going to on Tuesday is going to be a lot more thorough. No, the first vet didn’t do a biopsy which will be done Tuesday. Nor did he do a rectal exam which will tell them whether (assuming it is a carcinoma) it has spread into the lymph nodes. If that’s the case, they will not do the surgery at all, Rusty would have to be under anesthesia far too long, the surgery itself would be very invasive and the recovery would be extremely difficult at his age. There is a possibility it’s not a carcinoma at all, but a papilloma, but either way, it can’t stay the way it is now. We are also going to discuss cisplatin. I’m pretty sure it’s too big for freezing, it totally surrounds the urethra (he can still urinate though) and is just a bit smaller than a tennis ball. It’s also very painful. :frowning:

OK I have not read the posts but…you should contact Cother altitude rider. She is in CO now, but used to live in Aiken. Her horse Cody had penile cancer and was treated at the Univ of GA vet school. I think Cody is still alive out in CO. We were all worried about Cody but he did well in treatment and came out of UGA in good health.

Your nearest vet school, Cornell? can tell you if partial penile amputation is the way to go or if you should try another option. Including freezing the tumor to reduce or eliminate it and make the horse comfortable.

Cody’s thread should still be on Coth.


So I took Rusty to the Saratoga Equine Clinic and things could not have gone better. As it turns out, it was not SCC, but a large sarcoid. We also had one of the best of the best, Dr. Brett Woody from Rood and Riddle, do the surgery. He happened to be visiting the clinic (word on the street is that SEC may become a R&R expansion, but that’s conjecture on my part based on rumors in the area). At any rate, he and Bill Barnes did the surgery, amputation of about 4-5 inches of the penis and everything went smooth as silk according to them. He did well under anesthesia and was up and recovering very quickly. He will remain at the clinic until next Monday. I could’ve brought him home sooner, but I have to go out of town this weekend and opted to let him stay where I know qualified eyes are watching him. Thanks everyone for all the info, prayers and good thoughts. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Make sure you ask if your vet clinic has a certified anesthesiology technician. Many of the smaller clinics do not.


That is one operation that is easy on the horse and will not cause generally any quality of life problems, so it is indicated for most any horse of any age.

Other surgical interventions on some horses that are already compromised or very old, not so much.

Glad you went on with this, especially since now you know it was not the pesky squamous cell carcinoma, that is more aggressive than others and so is more complicated to stop.

Hope he is home soon again.:slight_smile: