A NEW, state-of-the-art cancer treatment and research facility for animals was opened on Tuesday by the Princess Royal.
The facility at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) in Suffolk has been purpose-built to treat dogs, cats and horses with cancer and to further understanding of the disease when it occurs in animals.
Made possible in part by a £1.5m loan from the Kennel Club, it will be named the Kennel Club Cancer Centre.
The AHT’s chief executive, Peter Webbon, said on Monday: "2012 marks 70 years of the Trust fighting disease and injury in animals, and the addition of the Cancer Centre is a landmark achievement in our history.
"We believe this is the first facility of its kind in Europe, purpose-built to treat horses, dogs and cats with cancer. We now have a short commissioning process to undertake but anticipate welcoming the first patients through the doors early next year.”
The centre, which has taken just over a year to build, 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 animals the best options for their specific case, whatever the diagnosis, Mr Webbon said.
"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,” he said.
"It was thanks to a generous donation from the late Tom Scott, a long-term supporter of the AHT, that we were able to start this development. His donation, along with that from many other AHT supporters, and an interest-free loan of £1.5 million from the KC has meant this ambitious project has come to fruition so quickly.”
KC chairman Steve Dean said he was very proud to be present at the opening of the centre.
"Thanks to the expertise available here at the AHT, the centre will provide advanced techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, to the benefit of many animals,” he said. "It is exciting to consider how synergy between the centre and the Kennel Club Genetics Centre can help further the understanding of the inheritance factors which influence the development of cancer.”