A cat with tongue cancer who was given just 50 days to live last year is still alive and well 18 months after beginning treatment at one of the UK’s top animal hospitals.

The cat, called Acai, is being treated by specialist Gerry Polton, director of the oncology service at Linnaeus-owned North Downs Specialist Referrals, in Bletchingley, Surrey.

Gerry has described Acai’s progress as “extraordinary” and a shining success story for electrochemotherapy, an exciting treatment for fighting cancer.

Gerry, a European and RCVS oncology specialist, said: “Acai is a lovely big cat who was diagnosed with a squamous cell carcinoma on the underside of his tongue.

“This is a painful and destructive tumour and, normally, life expectancy for these cases is only about 50 days, with appropriate pain relief.

“There really are no recognised treatment options for this dreadful disease. With surgery, they tend to survive for even less time than if they receive no treatment at all and nobody has ever convincingly demonstrated a chemotherapy option that consistently helps.

“That’s why we decided that Acai was a good candidate to receive electrochemotherapy treatment and he received his first treatment in the first week of April 2020.

“It was an almost instant success. The tumour visibly resolved and the mass was no longer apparent after the first three treatments.

“He received six treatments in total in that first course and remained in remission until February 2021.”

Once again, Gerry opted for electrochemotherapy and once again, Acai responded.

Gerry added: “We performed two treatments two weeks apart but Acai lost his appetite after the second treatment, so no more were given.

“We expected that the tumour would begin to progress quite rapidly but remarkably he has responded so well and has got his appetite back.

“It is now 18 months since the lump was first identified and the fact that he is happy and well at this point is extraordinary.

“We’re delighted and want to share this success story to raise awareness of the treatment so that other cats can benefit from it.

“It combines a low dose of a chemotherapy drug and an electrical pulse, which is applied directly by an electrode.

“When the electric pulse is applied the cells form pores allowing the drug to enter and be active against the cancer.

“I was worried the electrical treatment might somehow make it difficult for Acai to eat and drink afterwards but those concerns proved unfounded. Acai wasn’t remotely bothered – he just lapped it up!”

For more information on North Downs Specialist Referrals, visit www.ndsr.co.uk/home or search for North Downs Specialist Referrals on social media.

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