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AHT Life Magazine 2018

Leading science and care

Leading science and care for animals Pioneering ways to treat difficult cancers in horses Our equine oncology service, led by Dr Anna Hollis, is pioneering ways to treat difficult cancers and get the best possible outcomes. There are many treatments available for skin tumours in horses, but these have varying success rates, with tumours around the eye being especially challenging. We offer two innovative techniques for these difficult lesions: High Dose Rate (HDR) brachytherapy and strontium plesiotherapy, both giving good results. HDR HDR Treatment With HDR, a radioactive source is safely channelled into the patient via catheters that are implanted directly into the tumour. Using computer software to calculate the dose needed for the size and shape of the growth, we can control the dose to provide a completely bespoke treatment. This allows tumours very close to the eye to be treated, minimising the exposure of the eye itself to potentially damaging radiation. HDR is especially useful for sarcoids and has also been successfully used for squamous cell carcinomas that are too advanced for successful surgical removal. Strontium Plesiotherapy Strontium plesiotherapy is ideal for superficial skin cancers, as it involves applying a radioactive source directly to the tumour surface. The radiation only penetrates a few millimetres, meaning that a large dose can be applied to the tumour but surrounding tissues are not affected. For both HDR and Strontium the radiation source is removed from the horse after treatment – they are never ‘radioactive’. Strontium treatment Strontium has been successfully used for the treatment of superficial squamous cell carcinomas for many years, but recently we have also been successfully using it for sarcoids in awkward locations, such as on the ear and even inside the nostril! WE HAVE TREATED OVER HORSES WITH HDR & OVER 90% OF THESE DIFFICULT TUMOURS HAVE RESOLVED SUCCESSFULLY AS WELL AS SARCOIDS AROUND THE EYE WE HAVE USED HDR TO TREAT SARCOIDS AT THE BASE OF THE EAR HDR HAS NOW BEEN SUCCESSFULLY USED TO TREAT SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMAS AS WELL AS SARCOIDS. WE HAVE TREATED SEVERAL DIFFICULT LESIONS WITH STRONTIUM AND WILL BE PUBLISHING OUR RESEARCH RESULTS ON THIS TREATMENT IN2018 WE SHARE OUR RESEARCH RESULTS WIDELY; TALKS ABOUT OUR RADIATION TREATMENTS HAVE BEEN GIVEN ACROSS THE UK, AND IN EUROPE 10 AHT Life

Find out more at Harvey’s battle with sarcoids treatment Melanomas Some horses, usually grey horses, develop skin melanomas, which can be invasive and aggressive in their latter stages. We’re using a vaccine to cause an immune response against the melanoma cells, encouraging the body to fight the tumours. This way all melanomas are affected, including those that are not suitable for other treatments. We believe that the vaccine may be useful to stop the ongoing growth of any melanomas already present on the horse, and it may even stop the development of new lesions. After the initial assessment at the Animal Health Trust, the vaccination can be administered by the referring vet under the guidance of our specialists, providing a simple and practical treatment option. Harvey, an eight-year-old horse, who is a much-loved companion for his owner, Gabby - a regular hacker, was referred to the AHT after suffering from sarcoids around his eye. Sarcoids are the most common form of skin cancer in horses and the area around the eye is obviously a very delicate place. Sarcoids in this area can cause a lot of discomfort for the horse and treatment can be especially difficult because of the sensitive structures. Harvey was referred to see Anna Hollis at the AHT for high dose rate brachytherapy (HDR). After a thorough assessment, Anna concluded that Harvey needed two doses of HDR, using computerassisted planning and our specialist equipment, which were delivered seven days apart. Harvey was stabled at the AHT for a total of 11 days, where Anna could monitor his progress, and our wonderful team could take very good care of Harvey during his treatment. Thankfully, the HDR treatment went very smoothly and, with the right aftercare after he was discharged, Harvey has gone on to make a full recovery. Anna added: “Harvey was a model patient, Harvey “Harvey is such a special little horse for me. I have an artificial leg from a disability I have had from birth and although Harvey was still quite young when I got him, he has been brilliant for me from the very start. It has been so wonderful to have his sarcoids treated and not to have to worry about managing with them.” Gabby, Harvey’s owner Sarcoids around Harvey’s eye he was really good to handle and we all really enjoyed looking after him. We are so pleased to see that he has made a great recovery from these sarcoids, and we wish him a happy and healthy future with Gabby.” AHT Life 11

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