Animal cancer treatment unit opens in Cambridge

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new facility for treating animals with cancer has opened at the University of Cambridge's Queen's Veterinary School Hospital.

The new extension to the Cancer Therapy Unit will work in collaboration with the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute to study cancer in pet animals - information that could also benefit human cancer patients.

Only three centres currently offer radiotherapy to animals in England, and the Cambridge facility - which first opened in 1991 - is the only one in Europe that can treat horses and other large animals.

It now houses a new linear accelerator which is identical to those used in the treatment of human cancer patients and which treats over 20 animals per week.

Dr Jane Dobson, reader in veterinary oncology, commented: "The new linear accelerator will enable us to continue to provide the very best treatment and clinical care for our patients."

The linear accelerator works by directing radiation at the tumours which cannot be treated with surgery alone.

As many as one in four dogs and one in eight cats are affected by cancer at some stage during their lifetime and cancer is actually the leading cause of death in dogs.

However, the centre receives no government funding and is therefore reliant on donations to cover the costs of building work, lifesaving equipment and ongoing research.