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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • haemangiosarcoma;
  • brachytherapy;
  • oncology;
  • sarcoma

Summary

Sarcomas arising in the equine species are rare tumours, and treatment is generally surgical. Radiotherapy has been used in the management of malignancies of large animals; however, conventional external radiotherapy delivery is difficult. Interstitial brachytherapy has been used in the management of human sarcomas with reasonable success, although equine experience is minimal. We report a case of equine haemangiosarcoma treated with brachytherapy demonstrating the feasibility of the procedure and the highly malignant natural history of haemangiosarcoma.

An 8-year-old American Saddlebred gelding presented for evaluation of a soft tissue mass on the forehead which had been present for at least 6 months. Initial surgical attempts at management were unsuccessful; therefore a radiation oncologist specialising in brachytherapy was consulted. The radiation oncologist and veterinary surgeon performed an interstitial implant of the tumour mass on the rostrum of the horse under general anaesthesia. The procedure was well tolerated by the horse. The tumour demonstrated immediate response and was noted to have completely regressed within 6 weeks of the implant removal. Unfortunately, the horse developed widespread metastatic disease and required euthanasia. At the time of necropsy, no visible tumour was identified at the implant site.

Interstitial brachytherapy is feasible in soft tissue sarcomas of the horse; however, supportive demands are great with this procedure and we recommend it only be done at large speciality centres.