SIRT is used to treat liver tumours that can’t be removed by surgery. SIRT is most commonly used to treat secondary tumours (metastases) in the liver from a cancer that started in the large bowel (primary bowel cancer). It may occasionally be used to treat liver metastases from other types of cancer. SIRT can also be used to treat primary liver cancer.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) gives advice about which treatments should be available on the NHS. NICE currently recommends that SIRT can be used for people with secondary liver tumours who have previously been treated with chemotherapy. However, it recommends that further monitoring and research is needed to see whether SIRT improves survival and quality of life. People who have not already had chemotherapy treatment should first be offered a research trial, such as FOXFIRE. This trial is looking at whether giving chemotherapy and SIRT together is more effective than chemotherapy on its own. Your doctor or specialist nurse can give you more information.
NICE also recommends that SIRT is safe to be used to treat primary liver cancer, but that more research is needed to see how effective it is. NICE doesn’t recommend SIRT to treat primary bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) without monitoring or as part of a research trial.
In England and Scotland, SIRT is now available through a special funding programme called Commissioning through Evaluation. The programme aims to increase the number of people who can have specialist radiotherapy treatments. Your doctor can give you more information. If you live in Wales or Northern Ireland, you can find out from your cancer specialist whether SIRT is available.
SIRT isn’t widely available, so if it’s suitable for you, you may have to travel to another hospital to have it. You may be given SIRT as part of a research trial.