Penile and preputial tumours in the horse: A retrospective study of 114 affected horses


Department of Equine Sciences Utrecht University, Yalelaan 114, 3584 CM, Utrecht, The Netherlands


Reasons for performing study: Preputial and penile tumours are more common in horses than in other domestic animals, but no large surveys of male horses with tumours of the external genitalia are available.

Objective: To present a retrospective analysis of male horses with neoplasms of the external genitalia.

Methods: The penile and preputial tumours of 114 horses were evaluated. Data recorded included age, gelding or stallion and breed; type and site of lesion; involvement of regional lymph nodes; histopathology (including grading of squamous cell carcinoma); and results of radiographic examination of the thorax.

Results: Mean age of horses was 19.5 years with no apparent breed predilection. Common presenting clinical signs were irregularities (e.g. the presence of a mass and/or ulceration) on the integument of the penis and prepuce, and purulent or sanguineous discharge from preputial orifice. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) was the most prevalent neoplasm followed by papillomas and melanomas. A basal cell carcinoma, neurofibrosarcoma, adenocarcinoma or fibrosarcoma were each found on single horses. Squamous cell carcinomas with poor differentiation had a higher tendency to metastasise than did more differentiated tumours.

Conclusions: Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common urogenital tumour of the male horse and occurs primarily in old horses. Horses with poorly differentiated SCCs tend to have a higher incidence of regional metastases. Pathology of lymph nodes, even when not palpably enlarged, is a valuable diagnostic exercise. Radiology of the thorax to detect lung metastases is of little value.