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New initiative to evaluate liver radiotherapy in Oxford

This article is more than nine years old.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust is one of ten cancer centres to be named as a provider of Selective Internal Radiotherapy (SIRT) by NHS England.

This new £4.8 million initiative is aimed at increasing access to specialist radiotherapy services as part of a programme called 'Commissioning through Evaluation'.

SIRT, a specialist form of radiotherapy used in the treatment of cancerous tumours in the liver, is the first treatment to be evaluated in this national programme.

"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, who leads the SIRT team. "The list of centres published today means that we can offer SIRT to a large number of eligible patients. Some of these patients currently have no other treatment options available."

The Churchill Hospital in Oxford is one of the busiest centres in England for SIRT therapy. Since 2008, Dr Sharma's very experienced team of clinicians and scientists have been offering this treatment to patients with primary liver cancer or cancer that has spread to the liver from other organs.

Commissioning through Evaluation will enable SIRT to be funded within defined parameters, within an explicit evaluation programme. It is anticipated that the programme will be funded for up to three years before all the results are analysed.

Dr Sharma, who also leads the national FOXFIRE clinical trial currently open in 30 centres across the UK and sponsored by the University of Oxford, added "In their guidance on the treatment of colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) stated that SIRT can prolong time to clinical progression, but that more evidence is required on survival and quality of life. In combination with clinical trials such as FOXFIRE, we expect this new initiative to provide that information.  NICE has also commented on the efficacy and safety of SIRT for primary liver cancer. We hope that the programme may be extended by NHS England in future years to include patients with this disease."

This new approach provides an opportunity for patients, who are deemed clinically suitable, to access SIRT - a treatment which shows significant promise.