LONDON, November 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
NHS England today published a list of 10 NHS hospitals that will now offer life-extending SIRT to eligible 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' (CtE) policy that is hoped will improve the availability of cutting-edge treatments.
Since April 2013, NHS patients in England have been unable to receive SIRT after it was removed from the Cancer Drugs Fund creating inequalities to treatment for these aggressive forms of cancer. The only way patients could be treated was if SIRT was paid for privately or if an application was made for its use under exceptional circumstances, a process that can take many months and at a time when patients may only have a short time to benefit from treatment. Today's announcement means that there will be fair and equitable access for eligible patients across England to this cancer therapy.
"This announcement marks a major milestone in widening access to specialist cancer treatment. 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", said Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive from the charity Beating Bowel Cancer. "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".
Treatment with SIRT will be available to eligible patients by referral from local specialist consultants at NHS hospitals in Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton. At present SIRT will only be funded for patients where all other routine approaches, such as surgery and chemotherapy, have been unsuccessful. In the first year, around 220 patients are expected to be treated.
"On behalf of our patients who have been waiting for several difficult months for this news, we are delighted by this announcement," said Dr Ricky Sharma, Consultant Oncologist at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. "The list of centres published today means that we can offer SIRT to a large number of eligible patients. Some of these patients have no other treatment options available. This represents a significant advance for the NHS in England. In the future, I hope the Commissioning through Evaluation programme will be extended to include patients with primary liver cancer."
The SIRT procedure is a form of radiotherapy in which millions of tiny radioactive beads are injected into the artery that supplies the cancer, direct into the site of the liver. SIRT using SIR-Spheres microspheres (Yttrium-90 resin microspheres) has been shown to significantly improve survival by about five months in patients with bowel cancer that has spread to the liver and who have failed prior chemotherapy[1,2]
The new policy allows approved hospitals to offer innovative treatments like SIRT, where initial effectiveness and safety has been shown and supported by guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), but where further proof on clinical and cost effectiveness is required for routine NHS use. The outcomes of the use of SIRT under the CtE policy will be evaluated over the next two years.
"Sirtex welcomes the improved availability of SIRT on the NHS. We will work closely with the approved treatment centres to ensure that our SIR-Spheres technology, which is used in SIRT procedures, will be made available to those patients that meet the right criteria", said Nigel Lange, Chief Executive Officer of Sirtex Medical Europe, which developed and continues to study new uses of SIR-Spheres microspheres in the treatment of liver tumours.
Seidensticker R et al. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol 2012; 35; 1066–1073.
Bester L et al.. J Vasc Interven Radiol 2012; 23: 96–105.
SOURCE Sirtex Medical