Reasons for performing study: Sarcoids are the commonest form of equine skin tumour. Several therapeutic measures have been described but none is considered to be universally effective. Electrochemotherapy (ECT) is a new anticancer therapy that utilises electrical field pulses to induce increased cell membrane permeability to antitumour hydrophilic drugs, such as cisplatin. The increased intracellular concentration of the drugs has a significant therapeutic benefit. The procedure has not been previously reported in a large number of horses.
Objective: To validate ECT as a novel alternative treatment for equine sarcoids.
Methods: A retrospective study evaluating the efficacy of cisplatin ECT in the treatment of equine sarcoids was performed. Electrochemotherapy treatments were applied under general anaesthesia at 2 week intervals with or without prior excision or debulking. Electric pulses were directly applied to the lesions following intra-tumoural injections of an aqueous solution of cisplatin.
Results: One-hundred-and-ninety-four sarcoids on 34 horses, 2 ponies, 11 donkeys and one mule were treated with ECT. The 4 year nonrecurrence rate was 97.9% for animals (47/48) and 99.5% (193/194) for tumours. When ECT was used as a single treatment, a significant influence of tumour size (ρ= 0.55) on the number of treatments required for cure was shown. When prior surgery was performed, there was a significant influence (P<0.001) of the excision quality (complete or incomplete) and the healing mode (closed or open wound) on the number of treatments. The most common adverse effect was a slight oedematous reaction for lesions located on thin skin regions.
Conclusion and clinical relevance: Results demonstrate that ECT, with or without concurrent tumour debulking, is an effective alternative for treatment of equine sarcoids.