A cancer treatment that can extend patients’ lives is to be re-introduced for people in the North East.
The Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust will be one of only 10 centres in England that will offer life-extending SIRT treatment to patients with liver cancer that has spread from the bowel, and bile duct cancer.
SIRT is the first treatment to be funded under the new NHS Commissioning through Evaluation policy that is hoped will improve the availability of cutting-edge cancer treatments.
The NHS had previously allowed the use of SIRT, paid for by the Cancer Drugs Fund. But in April, the Government removed it from the fund, meaning NHS patients could only get it if they paid for it privately.
Prof Derek Manas, consultant hepatobiliary and transplant surgeon at the Newcastle Trust, said: “On behalf of our patients who have been waiting for several difficult months for this news, we are delighted by this announcement. We can now offer SIRT to eligible patients, many of whom have no other treatment options available. This represents a significant advance for people affected by cancer in Tyne and Wear and the Northern region.”
The treatment will be made available to patients who are referred by their local consultants. It will be considered where all other routine approaches, such as surgery and chemotherapy, have been unsuccessful.
“This announcement marks a major milestone in widening access to specialist cancer treatment,” said Mark Flannagan, chief executive of the charity Beating Bowel cancer.
“It’s a step in the right direction in breaking down inequalities where only those that can afford private care can benefit from pioneering treatments. Patients in England with liver cancer that has spread from the bowel, and who have exhausted other treatments, now have access to a therapy which can extend their survival so that they can spend extra time with their loved ones and enjoy more of life.”
SIRT is a form of radiotherapy in which millions of radioactive beads are injected into the artery that supplies the cancer, direct into the site of the liver.