Updated on 25 July 2013
Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) gets UK nod for liver cancer
Singapore: UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published guidance to support the routine use of SIRT (Selective Internal Radiation Therapy) for the treatment of patients with primary liver cancer.
SIRT is used for the treatment of inoperable liver tumours and involves injecting millions of tiny radioactive microspheres into the liver via the hepatic artery (blood supply). Each microsphere is coated with a beta-emitting radioactive isotope called yttrium-90.
The radiation delivers localized treatment to tumour cells whilst conserving normal liver cells. SIR-Spheres microspheres, a form of SIRT, were approved in Europe in 2002 and more than 35,000 treatments have been supplied worldwide.
Over 500 patients have received this treatment in Britain. The NICE guidance, released on July 24, 2013, confirmed that the scientific evidence of the safety and efficacy of SIRT for patients with HCC is now considered adequate, which means that eligible National Health Service (NHS) patients are now likely to have improved access to this treatment.
Dr Harpreet Wasan, consultant oncologist, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College, said that, "SIRT is an innovative treatment for patients with inoperable primary liver tumours where few other effective treatment options are available. It is excellent news that NICE has now published guidance supporting the latest evidence on SIRT in HCC and this should ensure suitable patients can access SIRT on the NHS. I hope that, as a result, 'postcode prescribing' and treatment delays due to a lengthy funding application and approval process will no longer be a problem for treating eligible NHS patients with SIRT."