Border collie receives VIP tour of animal cancer centre

A border collie who beat cancer and was a finalist at Crufts received a special tour at the new cancer treatment centre in Edinburgh.

Seven year old Scrooble completed his cancer treatment in 2007 and just six months later was competing in the 2008 Flyball agility competition at Crufts.

This week, he was given a VIP tour of the £3 million cancer centre at Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, which is the first centre of this sort to open in Scotland.  The centre offers the latest treatment for animals and is expected to give n insight into cancer treatment for humans too.

Scrooble had eight months of chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma at the Easter Bush Edinburgh University’s Hospital for Small Animals.  His owner, 42 year old Sara Hawkswell from Armdale in West Lothian commented:

“Scrooble was so used to coming in for treatment that he would look out for anyone he knew walking past in the waiting room and then, when it was time for his treatment, he would jump right up on to the table.  When Scrooble was undergoing treatment, the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful.  Scrooble is now full of energy, competing in agility at shows most weekends, and since his recovery has gone up two agility grades.”

The Veterinary Cancer Care Centre should be able to treat around 20 animal care cases each week and has the latest equipment including a CT scanner capable of taking scans of horses and a linear accelerator for radiotherapy treatment.

The cancer centre is part of a £100 million development at the site and includes both a teaching building and a research building.  It is hoped that the centre will be able to conduct research to identify genes that cause cancer, analyse the part stem cells play in cancers and understand tumour progression.  Already the scientists at the centre have identified a cancer stem cell in dogs that may be able to help with treatments for bone cancer in children and teenagers.

Centre director Professor David Argyle said: “The centre will have the most sophisticated diagnostic procedures, followed by comprehensive cancer therapies for pets, including a linear accelerator to provide radiotherapy.  Our understanding in treating cats and dogs and how cancer takes hold will also pave the way for comparative research, relating what we know about the disease in animals to humans to improve treatments for all.”

Nowadays, pets do live longer thanks to new treatments and cancer is the main cause of death for household pets.  Around one in five cats and one in three dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime.