Advise needed, vet just told me my horse has cancer :(

thatsmygirl

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Please bare with me as I'm a bit upset about this but was in the back of my head as a thought. The pony in question is a older ( 21) retired pony but a much loved member of the family and is treated with as much love and care as the others in work so he still feels part of the herd. In by day and out by night. He's blind in 1 eye and hasn't got great eyesight in his other eye but is happy and knows his home so is fine but would never dream of moving him. He's had a small lump come up on his stomach which has remained un changed about the size of a pea under his skin and a smaller one on his face which again hasn't changed at all but on the other side of his face he has a rather large lump, its again under the skin and has a big scabby black head, its most in slightly and has grown rather large in a small period of time but seems to have stopped growing for me. It's on his blind side. He rubbed it today and it bled a bit but I don't know if he was rubbing that or his face in general. Please note this pony is happy and seems fine in himself.
I had the vet today and while she was here I got her to check his large lump, she always checks him when she pops round, and she told me she feels its cancerous and to " leave well alone!!" Which is easy for her to say but has left me a bit confused and upset about it. She also said while his quality of life was good just leave him to enjoy his retirement. And we don't know what lumps etc he's got inside so just leave him alone basically. Thing is can she really tell just by looking its cancerous? Should she really tell me this without it being confirmed ?
Now I want questions answered which nobody can give me like, how long has he got left? Am I better pts now? But he could go on for years? Or months? He's happy so leave him be?
Is there a simply test without hurting him that could prove if its cancerous or not? I'm so confused he's our family's character and want the best for him but don't know which way to turn :(
 

FfionWinnie

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She can probably make an educated guess about what its likely to be. At 21 and with the other issues, the trauma of removing lumps would probably be too much wouldn't it? He could go on for a long time and personally I'd let him live out his life for as long as he is happy then call it a day. He will not know the difference between a month or a year, but he will know about being stuck with needles and messed around...
 

JillA

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The problem with tumours in older horses is if you leave it it may not develop but if you start to meddle, it might spread to a part of the body that can't cope with it. If it is benign leaving it won't hurt, and if it is cancerous, interfering might make it much much more dangerous. You could ask for a biopsy, but then what? So long as he has a good quality of life he will be fine with it, and you only need really start to be concerned if it gets much much bigger.
 

Montyforever

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I know how you feel! Took my rabbit to the vets a month or so ago with a lump and the vet just had a feel and said feels like cancer, when he starts to struggle or stops eating put him down :(
i would like to do more but realistcally at his age its not worth putting him through it! Hard as it is they are probably right :(
 

ozpoz

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I would follow your vet's advice and if his quality of life is good, then fine.
I'd keep in the back of my mind that horses are flight animals and may not show signs of pain, so I would be prepared to act as soon as I had any misgivings about him.
I am so sorry you've had such horrible news. It does help to deal with things if you have a plan, so you are ready for the time when he isn't so happy. Horse or human, there is no way of knowing when that is.
 

Amymay

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I would follow your vet's advice and if his quality of life is good, then fine.
I'd keep in the back of my mind that horses are flight animals and may not show signs of pain, so I would be prepared to act as soon as I had any misgivings about him.
I am so sorry you've had such horrible news. It does help to deal with things if you have a plan, so you are ready for the time when he isn't so happy. Horse or human, there is no way of knowing when that is.
Wonderful advice.
 

JanetGeorge

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There are no simple answers to this and it depends a bit how much faith you have in your vet! I recently had a large lump on the face removed from my aging Springer Spaniel (aged 13 - and not a great patient as he bites vets - and anyone else except my OH and myself!) The vet was convinced it WAS malignant buit I didn't bother spending £50 on getting her opinion confirmed - because it was irrelevent! The operation scar healed beautifully and he is a much brighter dog since! I WAS in two minds about having the lump removed - and I'm glad I decided to do it because it HAS improved his quality of life.

Obviously you won't have vet fees insurance to cover this sort of surgery in a 21 year old. The risks of anaesthetic in a horse this age is greater! As long as the lump stays roughly the same I would be inclined to 'treat' it with terramycin spray if he rubs it - and perhaps put a mask on him to keep flies away. And hope!
 

ridefast

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I would follow your vet's advice and if his quality of life is good, then fine.
I'd keep in the back of my mind that horses are flight animals and may not show signs of pain, so I would be prepared to act as soon as I had any misgivings about him.
I am so sorry you've had such horrible news. It does help to deal with things if you have a plan, so you are ready for the time when he isn't so happy. Horse or human, there is no way of knowing when that is.
Exactly this. Horses don't tend to show signs they are struggling until they are really struggling. If you're worried about cancer inside him, the only way to know is to take a blood test. My pony had no lumps but she was losing weight, lethargic and holding on to her winter coat, blood results came back positive for cancer and we had her pts within a week. It was nice having her go while she still appeared to be enjoying life.
 

thatsmygirl

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Thanks for your messages,
Ffionwinnie, I agree I don't want to start messing with him and just want to give him a happy retirement but its killing me thinking he's got cancer. I mean tbh I suppose it doesn't matter either way the end result would be the same he's going to carry on while he's got a good life but its just coming to terms that he may have that horrid C word.
JillA that's more of less word by word what my vet said and hence " leave well alone"
I haven't got any pics but could get one tomoz, but I'm unable to post pics on here for some reason. He looks well ugly on his blind side what with his eye and his lump or so I get told :) but I just see his beauty.
Montyforever sorry to hear about your rabbit, iv got rabbits as well and love them, it really doesn't matter how big or small the animal they all have their place in our hearts don't they.
Ozpoz I think making a plan might be wise just so the whole family know where we stand, for when the worst does happen
 

ridefast

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I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure the vet looking at something isn't a correct diagnosis, why don't you save yourself a lot of worry and have your horse blood tested? It's not invasive, it's no worse than routine vaccinations and atleast you'll know for sure. It may just be an ugly wart.
 

thatsmygirl

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Thanks for the advise guys :) it's weird but the flys aren't bothering him ( the lump) at all. He's got a lovely shiny coat and tbh is a bit fatter than he should be. I know him inside out so hopefully will know when he's not himself. He's a talkative old sod and as soon as I call him he talks softly over and over until iv caught him.
 

thatsmygirl

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Thanks Amymay I hope so as well.

I can't or don't want to use a fly mask because of his eye sight anyway so don't want to restrict it any more. I have problems with the headcollar as It falls in line with his lump so have been turning him out with just a rope round his neck but gonna have to stop that as he can get excited on the way to the field and bunny hops and can play me up. So because of the way he is I'm hoping I should pick up on any behaviour out the norm.
 

ester

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Mine has a carcinoma on his willy, vet was very keen not to leave it untreated but also keen not to GA for surgery. So we have, under the guidance of Liverpool been treating with a cream and liquid nitrogen combo. It's not got much better but the vets seem very pleased if has got no worse and think we might have lost him by now if not. Pony is 100% in himself and I am hoping we can sort if fully with more treatment. Also as a side note it is poss to have oldies fully insured until they are 25 these days with the right policies
 

ladyt25

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I don't think just because the vet says it's "likely to be cancer" that means it definitely is. Could be a sarcoid which could be treated if it's causing problems (ie bleeding a lot) but otherwise, whether cancerous or not it is general advice to just leave these things alone.

Our old TB had some horrid sarcoids between his back legs, they started bleeding, grew quite large and the flies were really after e them. There were two particularly horrid ones and, after asking the vet if we could try it, we tied them off with cable ties! Within 2 weeks they had both died and fallen off and so far they've not grown back. He seems a lot happier (no blood down his back legs/in his tail and it all looks much nicer. He is 29 and we think he could possibly have some growths internally but he's happy and eats well so for the time being we'll leave him be.

If it's not bothering him then i'd be inclined to let him be really.
 
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The most important thing is that this boy clearlybhas a very loving owner who will do their absolute best for him. What more could a horse ask for..?? You know him best so you will just "know" when the time is right for him xxx
 

FfionWinnie

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Thanks for your messages,
Ffionwinnie, I agree I don't want to start messing with him and just want to give him a happy retirement but its killing me thinking he's got cancer. I mean tbh I suppose it doesn't matter either way the end result would be the same he's going to carry on while he's got a good life but its just coming to terms that he may have that horrid C word.
JillA that's more of less word by word what my vet said and hence " leave well alone"
I haven't got any pics but could get one tomoz, but I'm unable to post pics on here for some reason. He looks well ugly on his blind side what with his eye and his lump or so I get told :) but I just see his beauty.
Montyforever sorry to hear about your rabbit, iv got rabbits as well and love them, it really doesn't matter how big or small the animal they all have their place in our hearts don't they.
Ozpoz I think making a plan might be wise just so the whole family know where we stand, for when the worst does happen
The thing to remember is the treatment for cancer is often more distressing than the actual having it. He isn't going to know he has it, he has a lovely life with you and you know him so well, that when the time comes, you will know what to do.
 

kerrieberry2

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my 28 yr old mare had a lump on her face/cheek about the size of a cherry! I was worried it was cancer, I got the vet out after it not going down for a couple of weeks, I mentioned to the vet I thought it might be cancer and she agreed, she said at her age, its very likely to be cancer, but prescribed anti b's for a week (to be injected) and if no change I would need to take her in for a biopsy! so after a week, there was no change! so off we went to the vet! they clipped her face and found another smaller lump, so rather than just taking a sample, they removed the whole thing on both lumps! they were both sent away for tests and they came back absolutely fine!! the large one was a possible reaction to an anti body, so if she's pierced her skin on something in the field and I cant remember the exact description of the smaller lump but it wasnt' anything cancerous! but they said its something that might come up in other places on her body but isn't anything to worry about!

but back to when the first vet was there, I cried when she agreed to my cancer worries and she said to me if it is cancer, and its not aggressive, I could still easily have another 5 years with her! so without knowing what you're dealing with you can't know how long you might have left!

I hope you manage to work it all out, and fingers x'd its not cancer! x
 

Alexart

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Don't worry my neighbours TB x connie mare has had a large fist sized growth in her udder and it was diagnosed as cancer, the vet couldn't say how long she had left as who knows, but the mare is still going strong 10yrs later and is over 30 now and and has more growths else where as well as internally, but she's happy, keeps her weight no problem, and actually gets too fat in summer, and the lumps don't bother her at all so she'll keep going until there is a problem then she'll be pts. So having cancerous lumps needn't be a death sentence unless it is an aggressive cancer where they are growing rapidly and spreading, the horse is loosing weight quickly and they show other signs, then it's best just leave well alone and enjoy the time he does have left which could be a very long time!!:D
 

Queenbee

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I'd personally do nothing, you're vet is completely correct, you do not know if/how many there are inside. It could well be that this is a one off lump but that aggravating it could either remove it fully, or anger the site and create secondary lumps. It may well be that there are already a number of other lumps... Who knows. Blood tests are not always conclusive, there are fast growing tumors and slow growing tumors but a slow growing Tumor can quickly turn fast if aggravated. No one knows how long they have with their horse or anyone they love, your horse could die from colic or a broken leg tomorrow, sometimes further investigation is just not worth it... You may be given a better idea of what it is, how long you have, you may find out that its fine... But really the key is always to ensure your horse is happy and loved and that you enjoy your time together. Don't forget, that cancer is both benign and malignant. My whippet has cancer, its slowly slowing her up, she has had two operations purely because the location of the Tumor was in the throat area (thyroid) but she runs, eats, smiles, wags her tail and has been doing so for the best part of a year since I found out. It's definitely still there, but further investigation is just not worth it, she's an old girl, she wouldn't deal well with it. She has a fantastic quality of life, and that is the main thing... If your horse is happy and healthy, then just enjoy it. Another food for thought is that as fast as something grows, it can just as swiftly slow down. I had a heart attach when a new lump came up about six months ago in a matter of days... Since then it hasn't grown at all. I wish you and your horse all the very best and keep fingers crossed that this lump is non agressive and that you have many more years together xx. I put my whippet on tumeric, its fantastic for oldies and joints but also has some fantastic properties with regards to warding off cancer and slowing it down xx
 

jendie

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Your are obviously a caring owner and he is obviously a very lucky horse. I'd be inclined to take your vet's advice and steer clear of invasive treatments that might cause your old boy a lot of distress and which might not, in the long term, have many benefits. Let him enjoy whatever time he has - and it might be a very long time - and let him go when it appears he is beginning to struggle. I've never faced with problem with a horse but I have with dogs. These days I would never treat cancer in an elderly dog, I'd just let it live out its time in peace until it became clear it was beginning to suffer. You know your horse and you will know when the time is right.
 

thatsmygirl

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Thanks so much for your kind words and advise they do mean a lot, I'm going to google turmeric, it's not going to hurt him and may make me feel as if I'm trying something. But I am going to leave him alone and except what time we have together which hopefully will be a long time yet.
 

Queenbee

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I'm sure it will be a long time xx you come across as a loving caring owner, and that is all any horse can hope for xx there has been some great research into the benefits of tumeric, and there are always a number of threads in vet forum with people advising the best/cheapest place to buy it... Just be prepared...










You will get lots of slobbery orange kisses :D xx
 

thatsmygirl

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Ha he needs no excuse to kiss, it's his little trick, if you say " kiss me" and point to your mouth he opens his lips and lands a big wet one on you so better not do that when he's eaten his dinner then |o|
People who don't believe he does it always try's it out of course and iv seen many people kissed to death.
 
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