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J Vet Intern Med. 1995 Sep-Oct;9(5):291-7.

Equine melanocytic tumors: a retrospective study of 53 horses (1988 to 1991).

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Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-6401, USA.


A study of 57 cutaneous melanocytic tumors from 53 horses revealed 4 distinct clinical syndromes: melanocytic nevus, dermal melanoma, dermal melanomatosis, and anaplastic malignant melanoma. Melanocytic nevus and anaplastic melanoma each had histopathologic features that distinguished them from dermal melanoma and dermal melanomatosis. Dermal melanoma and dermal melanomatosis were histologically similar but could be differentiated by their clinical features. Melanocytic nevi were diagnosed in 29 horses with an average age of 5 years; they were solitary, superficial masses that occurred in both grey and nongrey horses, and in which surgical excision was generally curative. Dermal melanomas were diagnosed in 20 horses with an average age of 13 years; all horses of known coat color were grey. Eight horses with an average age of 7 years had 1 or 2 discrete dermal melanomas. Follow-up information was available for 6 horses; metastases occurred in 2 horses, and surgical excision was apparently curative in 4 horses. Dermal melanomatosis was diagnosed in 12 grey horses with an average age of 17 years; all 6 of these horses evaluated had internal metastases. In 2 aged nongrey horses with anaplastic malignant melanoma, the tumors metastasized within 1 year of diagnosis. Two tumors with features of both melanocytic nevus and dermal melanoma remained unclassified.

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