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Princess Anne opens “first of its kind” animal cancer treatment facility

A state-of-the-art cancer treatment and research facility for animals – believed to be the first of its kind in Europe – was opened yesterday by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.

The facility at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) has been purpose-built to treat horses, dogs and cats with cancer and will also assist in furthering understanding of the disease in animals.

The chief executive of the AHT Peter Webbon said it was a “landmark achievement” in the Trust’s history. “2012 marks 70 years of the AHT fighting disease and injury in animals. We now have a short commissioning process to undertake but anticipate welcoming the first patients through the doors in early 2013.”

The Kennel Club Cancer Centre at the AHT houses a linear accelerator and brachytherapy machine used in radiotherapy treatment, along with a 16-slice CT scanner to aid radiotherapy planning.

The new facility complements the AHT’s existing cancer treatment options of surgery and chemotherapy meaning the Suffolk-based charity will be able to offer each and every patient the very best options for their specific case, whatever the diagnosis.

With one in four dogs and one in six cats developing cancer at some time in their life, the new centre will help many more animals fight cancer. The speed at which the centre was built was due to a generous donation from a life-long supporter of the AHT, the late Tom Scott, and an interest-free loan of £1.5 million from the Kennel Club.

On opening the facility, HRH The Princess Royal, president of the AHT, said: “This cancer centre is an exciting development at the AHT and will make a real difference for animals with cancer, here and now. It will improve the chances, for many animals, of beating this pernicious disease.

“Countless other horses, dogs and cats across the world with cancer will also benefit from knowledge gained from research in the Kennel Club Cancer Centre at the AHT.”

Kennel Club chairman Steve Dean added: “It is exciting to consider how synergy between the Kennel Club Cancer Centre and the Kennel Club Genetics Centre can help to further the understanding of the inheritance factors that influence the development of cancer.”

Images: The AHT’s Jo Junker demonstrates the linear accelerator to HRH The Princess Royal; and HRH The Princess Royal officially opens The Kennel Club Cancer Centre at the AHT.

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