A CONSULTANT at Wycombe Hospital is training for an ambitious trek to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Scannappeal.

Dr Chris Wathen, a consultant respiratory physician and father of two, is taking on the world's tallest free-standing mountain to help pay for new scanning equipment for early detection of lung cancer - work done by Dr Wathen's department at the hospital.

At 5,895m, Mount Kilimanjaro's peak presents a tough challenge, as the thin atmosphere presents a real danger of altitude sickness. Dr Wathen, 51, said: "It's a significant risk. But it's actually a greater risk for young people - their brains are tighter in their skulls."

He added that his family were "slightly hesitant, but supportive" about his plan.

Although Dr Wathen, from Princes Risborough, has beaten peaks in Britain, Europe, and North America, he has yet to climb in Africa. He will be one of half a dozen fundraisers from across the UK climbing the mountain at the end of February for various charities.

Scannappeal's Cancer Fighting Fund is an appeal to raise money for new medical technology. Phase One aims to raise £150,000 for state-of-the-art equipment which will enable doctors at Wycombe Hospital to diagnose lung cancer while it is still treatable.

Dr Wathen said: "The problem with lung cancer that it is generally diagnosed far too late. This new equipment should enable us to pick up the signs much earlier."

He added that the equipment was much more advanced than the standard NHS equipment found in most hospitals around the country, and said: "We really do think this will be valuable for the people of South Bucks."

One in seven people in the area has benefited from equipment paid for by Scannappeal, which has raised almost £6 million since its launch in 1987. About 250 people die from lung cancer each year in Bucks, and nine out of ten cases are incurable because they are detected too late.

To sponsor Dr Wathen, visit www.justgiving.com/chriswathen or call Scannappeal on 01494 734161.