The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has begun building a new cancer centre at its Lanwades Park base in Suffolk — but needs to raise £1.5 million to complete the project.

Due to open next summer, it will treat horses, dogs and cats as well as conduct research into treatments for animals and humans.

The AHT hopes to treat more than 100 equine cases a year at the new centre.

Sue Murphy, head of clinical cancer treatment, said: “Having all three treatment options [surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy] on one site means that whatever the diagnosis, we will be able to offer patients the very best option for their case.”

An extra £250,000 is needed to buy a linear accelerator — a radiotherapy machine that irradiates cancerous cells without destroying the surrounding tissue.

Stamford-based Ian Scott, whose showjumper Lackaview Cruise (known as “Fern”) has been diagnosed with cancer, said the centre was much needed.

“Fern has inoperable and untreatable tumours — hopefully research could lead to treatment being an option for owners in the future living with this diagnosis,” he said.

And Dr Tim Mair of the Bell Equine Veterinary Clinic in Kent, who has studied cancerous tumours in the horse, said: “Equine cancer is an area that needs a lot more work to improve treatment as it lags far behind other small animals and humans.

“All types of cancer are problematic and generally have a high reoccurrence rate — by the time of diagnosis we often can’t do anything.”

For more information, including how to donate, visit: www.aht.org.uk or tel: 01638 555648.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (28 July, 2011)