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My old trainer used to say that ALL grey/white horses eventually get melanoma cancer. Is this true?
 

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I don't know. But there was a post last night about twins. They looked to be white, and they were 24 yrs old!
 

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I don't think they ALL do but alot do. I don't think they die from it but they get lumps on their bodies. My grey has a few pea sized lumps under his tail. I just keep an eye on them to make sure they don't get any bigger.
 

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My first trainer told me the same thing. Then my friend bought a gray Irish Draught cross and she told me the vet ran a some type of test on him and that he wouldn't get melanoma? I don't know how true that it... maybe he just didn't have it then. I've never owned a gray so I don't know too much about it.
 

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We have seven greys at my barn and four of them have lumps. One horse has a severe case with large lumps on his head, neck, sheath and under his tail. The dentist came to do his teeth and found some inside his mouth too. Poor guy, he's been loosing weight so we think they may be all the way through him. He's 28 so he's lived a full lifespan.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The one grey that was at that barn did have melanoma, she had it under her tail and we suspected all through her intestines. She was finally put down because of it.
 

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While it is an exaggeration to say that all grays will eventually get melanomas, statistically most will. The most common place to find them is around the base of the tail. Melanomas can be quite aggressive, however the ones we see in gray horses tend to be less so, growing quite slowly over time. So no, not all grays will get melanomas, but most will. Few of them die from these, which is good news.
 

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The only way to tell for sure a grey horse has skin cancer is to remove the hide (not real great for the horse). Grey horses are slaughtered at a seperate plant than colored horses because of the incidence of cancer so I would say the incidence must be pretty high. Very few horses ever show any signs of it and fewer still ever have to get treatment or put down because of it. It's not something that would factor in to my decision on rather to buy a horse or not.
 

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The only way to tell for sure a grey horse has skin cancer is to remove the hide (not real great for the horse). Grey horses are slaughtered at a seperate plant than colored horses because of the incidence of cancer so I would say the incidence must be pretty high. Very few horses ever show any signs of it and fewer still ever have to get treatment or put down because of it. It's not something that would factor in to my decision on rather to buy a horse or not.
Good, because I really love grey horses. :p
 

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The only way to tell for sure a grey horse has skin cancer is to remove the hide

Actually kevin, you can biopsy the melanoma and get a diagnosis quite easily, just like humans. No hiding necessary. And it is incorrect to say that few ever show signs, a very high percentage have melanomas which appear as lumps around the tail base. I am basing this on scientific studies, not personal observation or opinion (was just forced to read about this for a class). I would agree though, that I wouldn't let it factor into my decision to buy a gray or not.
 

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Is it more likely with certain breeds? All the grey arabs Ive known have never had Melanoma, but quite a few QH have.
My first horse was a flea-bitten grey, QH. She ended up with melanoma, both at tail and in mouth.

* "Grey cancer" crosses breeds (from my vet and research)
* Not all greys get cancer
* Not all greys who get cancer necessarily die from it

5 years after diagnosis, the cancer metastasized and BB died at 25. She went very fast; so quickly that she died before the vet came to put her down.

There are tales of how/why greys get cancer (I read one that stated that all the dark in the young grey begins to collect in lumps on the horse, and that's why they get lighter and get cancer)--so read up as much as you can.
 

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Is it more likely with certain breeds? All the grey arabs Ive known have never had Melanoma, but quite a few QH have.
Just a side comment on the breed thing...I have a grey arab mare, purebred...almost white...she has two small lumps under her tail...havent had them tested but im pretty sure they are small melanomas...i just sorta watch them...they arent a problem at the current...
 

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we have three or four gray arabians in our herd with melanoma. The most commonly grow slowly, without metastasis (spreading) but some can grow for years and suddenly become malignant. Rarely they are malignant and metastatic from the onset. 80% of grays over 15 have melanocytic growths. Some reading for those who are interested:


http://ntserver1.wsulibs.wsu.edu:2057/ehost/pdf?vid=2&hid=11&sid=0238148c-2fc7-4556-91a1-400256357f73%40sessionmgr14

http://ntserver1.wsulibs.wsu.edu:[email protected]

The Horse | Gray Horse Disease--Melanoma
The Horse | Melanomas: Gray Horses vs. Solid-Colored Horses
 
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