Launched in January 2022 and funded by the RVC Animal Care Trust, we are the only centre in the UK to offer melanoma treatment using Thermofield hyperthermia and intratumoral chemotherapy.

Melanoma is a very common nodular skin disease of older grey horses (usually over 7-8 years of age) and it is estimated that more than 80% of grey horses will have at least one melanoma during their lives. Melanoma is a skin disease that affects older grey horses of any breed or gender.

Many treatments are available for melanoma, but none are 100% effective. This particular treatment modality is useful for lesions that are not amenable to surgical removal - for example, melanomas affecting the parotid region and other anatomical sensitive areas. Currently there is no effective treatment option for lesions in these areas.

Thermofield hyperthermia transfers a large volume of electromagnetic energy deep into biological tissue. The absorbed energy causes molecular friction, gently heating the targeted area to therapeutic temperatures that selectively kills cancerous cells without harming the surrounding healthy tissue. In addition, the heat increases drug penetration into tumors and inhibits DNA repair in cancer cells. The equipment is safe, effective, and easy to use.

This service will only be available in the ERH and horses will need to be admitted to the hospital for assessment and treatment

This treatment modality will improve the way in which we are able to treat horses with melanoma and this will mean a better quality of life for horses that are affected by this disease.

Horses receive three treatments one week apart. Treatment involves injection of the chemotherapeutic drug into the melanoma under sedation followed by hyperthermia using the thermofield unit. The entire procedure takes approximately 1 hour to complete and is relatively painless. A second hyperthermia treatment is performed the following day and then the horse can go home.  This is repeated for a total of 3 treatments.

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