Southampton doctors among first to offer cutting-edge liver cancer treatment

Brian StedmanDoctors at Southampton’s university hospitals are among the first in the country to offer a cutting-edge treatment for liver cancer.

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust has become one of only ten NHS trusts in England to use Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) to treat cancer which has spread to the organ from the bowel.

The technique, which has been shown to improve survival by around five months for patients whose chemotherapy has been unsuccessful, involves injecting millions of tiny radioactive beads directly into the site of the liver tumour.

SIRT is the first treatment to be funded under the new NHS ‘Commissioning through Evaluation’ policy, which is designed to improve the availability of the latest cancer treatments, with UHS and the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford the only designated centres in the south of England.

“We are delighted by this announcement for patients who have been waiting for several difficult months to find out if SIRT would become available through the NHS at specialist sites,” said Dr Brian Stedman, a consultant interventional radiologist at Southampton General Hospital.

“We can now offer the treatment to eligible patients, many of whom have no other treatment options available, and that represents a significant advance for people affected by cancer in the south of England.”

Last year, Dr Stedman became the first in the UK to treat cancer in the liver by isolating the organ from the rest of the body and 'bathing' it in chemotherapy, known as chemosaturation therapy.

He added: “It is also important we have been able to add another cutting-edge cancer treatment following the introduction of chemosaturation therapy in 2012 as we look to progress towards becoming the UK’s leading centre for liver cancer treatments using interventional radiology.”

Mark Flannagan, chief executive of charity Beating Bowel cancer, said: “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.”

Posted on Wednesday 11 December 2013