According to a report on the British veterinary website, researchers at four universities ‒ Royal Veterinary College, King’s College London, University of Edinburgh and University College London ‒ have made a significant breakthrough in scientists’ understanding of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

This particular cancer type is the second most common cancer found in horses and affects the genitalia, eyes or eyelids. Possible causes in the penis are smegma accumulation, ultraviolet light overexposure, chronic irritation and inflammation. Treating such tumours typically has limited success and euthanasia is often the only option.

The link between human papilloma virus, cervical cancer and chronic inflammation is already understood, and there is evidence that equine cancers may as be initiated to some extent by equine papillomavirus, a virus that manifests as warts and can be passed through direct or indirect contact.

Researchers in this study used both traditional microscopic examination of tissue and artificial intelligence to determine the correlation between chronic inflammation, equine papillomavirus  and equine penile squamous cell carcinoma. Signalling molecules, critical to researchers’ understanding of human penile cancer were also studied. It is hoped the study’s results will provide a better understanding and treatments for the cancer in both horses and humans.

You can read the Vet Times article here and the published study in Scientific Reports here.