Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Cutaneous histiocytoma

Contributor(s): Sophie Mahendran, Katie Waine


Bovine cutaneous histiocytoma has been mentioned in the veterinary literature over the years.  However, it is the opinion of the authors and the Editor that the current evidence base for the existence of this tumor in cattle is negligible. This is complicated by the fact that the terminology relating to histiocytic tumors has evolved over time and varies considerably between publications. The information below summarizes the available evidence, but also highlights some of the weaknesses identified in that evidence. This information has been included in Bovis in the hope that it is of use to any vet who feels that they may be faced with a bovine cutaneous histiocytoma case. We are happy to update this article should evidence become available confirming the existence of cutaneous histiocytoma in bovines. Please do contact the Editorial Team if you feel you can supply any clarity regarding this topic.
  • Much of the available literature referring to bovine cutaneous histiocytoma makes the presumption that bovine histiocytoma is similar to that described in canines.
  • Cause: in canines, a benign tumor of epidermal Langerhans cells.
  • Signs: in canines, usually a solitary bulging dermal mass.
  • Diagnosis: history, clinical signs, cytopathology, immunohistochemistry.
  • Treatment: in canines, tend to spontaneously regress but some may require surgical excision.
  • Prognosis: in canines, prognosis is excellent.



  • A round cell neoplasm, cutaneous histiocytomas are benign tumors of Langerhans cells, which are found in the skin.
  • Caused by proliferation of Langerhans cells:
    • In canines, usually a moderately dense uniform mass of cells.
    • In canines, generally only infiltrates the dermis and deeper subcutaneous tissues.
  • In canines, often a single nodule, but can be multiple:
    • Sutton et al (1987) describe a case in which they observe multiple skin nodules in a heifer that histologically appeared similar to canine cutaneous histiocytoma:
      • This study includes only one animal.
      • The heifer in this case study had multiple lesions, whereas cutaneous histiocytoma in dogs tend to be solitary.
      • Immunohistochemistry was not performed in this case (which likely was not available for diagnostic purposes at the time of the study).
      • This paper describes what was seen down the microscope but, it is the opinion of the authors and the editor that this is not considered to be a reliable enough indicator to definitively confirm the diagnosis of cutaneous histiocytoma.
  • In canines, many histiocytomas regress spontaneously and show lymphocytic infiltrate as they regress. During the period of regression, they often ulcerate:
    • Regression of the tumor is associated with lymphocytic infiltration, which is thought to indicate a host-mediated anti-tumor immune response


  • Weeks to months in canines.


This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login


This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login


This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Salvaggio A, S Caracappa, Marino A M F & Magro G (2004) Benign fibrous histiocytoma of the small intestine in a cow. J Comp Pathol 130 (2-3), 216-219 PubMed.
  • Sartin E A, Hudson J A, Herrera G A, Dickson A M & Wolfe D E (1996) Invasive malignant fibrous histiocytoma in a cow. J Am Vet Med Assoc 208 (10), 1709-1710 PubMed.
  • Sutton R H & McLennan M A (1987) Cutaneous histiocytoma in a heifer. J Comp Pathol 97 (4), 463-468 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Constable P D, Hinchcliff K W, Done S H & Gruenberg W (2016) Veterinary Medicine - E-BOOK: A textbook of the diseases of cattle, horses. 11th edn (Kindle edn). ASIN: B01K4UNVLK Amazon.
  • Dijk J E van, E Gruys & Mouwen J M V M (2007) Eds The Skin. In: Color Atlas of Veterinary Pathology. 2nd edn. pp 161-176. W B Saunders, UK SciDirect