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  1. ITV Report

Cat is first pet in UK to be cured of cancer using electric shocks

A rescue cat is the first pet in Britain to be cured of cancer after undergoing pioneering treatment which uses electric shocks to blast tiny holes in the tumour.

Credit: SWNS

Former stray Tigga was treated with electrochemotherapy, which experts hope could be used in humans in the future.

The ground-breaking procedure targets only cancerous cells - unlike normal chemotherapy which also damages healthy cells.

Credit: SWNS

Incredibly, just 44 days after having the treatment to get rid of the aggressive tumour on her nose, Tigga was in complete remission.

Electrochemotherapy is a treatment which is given in two stages.

Firstly, the pet is given a mild dose of intravenous chemotherapy before a probe passes a very precise electrical charge to the area in and around the tumour.

This temporarily blasts open tiny holes in the cells, big enough to allow the drug to enter, which then close again in microseconds.

This means the drug will only attack cancerous cells, unlike normal chemotherapy, which also kills healthy cells.

Tigga's owners, sound engineer Paul Carter and bookkeeper Clare Woodley, both 39, discovered she was unwell when she struggled to walk and maintain balance last year.

Credit: SWNS

We thought we'd give it a go because at the time, Tigga was in one of those cones on her neck and she kept scratching and splitting her nose open and it would bleed and scab up.

Just as it was almost healing, she would scratch it and it would flare up again.

When they came back with the cancer diagnosis it was a choice of leave her and hope it doesn't get any bigger - but it's a rubbish quality of life.

Although she was old, apart from the tumour she was bouncy and hopefully has a few more years left in her.

We first noticed it at the beginning of last year, a little mark.

In June of last year it started to get bigger, and in October she underwent the treatment.

– Paul Carter

Tigga was the first pet to be treated with electrochemotherapy at North Downs Specialist Referrals in Bletchingley, Surrey, which is the only vets' in Britain to use the treatment.

Normal chemotherapy works on the principle of being more damaging to cancer than non-cancerous tissue.

Some cancers are more resilient, so there are differences in how they respond to treatment, and this can cause more harm to the patient.

Electrochemotherapy involves clever anatomical targeting of a specific site and is an effective way of protecting healthy cells.

The results we are seeing in cases like Tigga's are unprecedented and we are learning about the procedure all the time.

– Gerry Polton, clinical director of oncology