New advice from NHS Scotland means SIRT is now available for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in Scotland

Posted on: 10th February 2023

Patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in Scotland may now be able to access Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) on the NHS.

SIRT was approved by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) for use in the NHS in England and Wales in 2021. The Scottish Health Technologies Group (SHTG) has now allowed the use of SIR-Spheres® and TheraSphere™ SIRT treatments in Scotland following a request from the Scottish HepatoPancreatoBiliary Network. You can read their advice here.

SIRT is used to treat primary liver tumours that cannot be removed by surgery. It involves injecting small radioactive beads into a patient’s blood supply to the liver, so providing targeted treatment to the tumour. It can be a treatment option for selected patients for whom conventional trans-arterial therapies are inappropriate.

HCC is the most common type of primary liver cancer that originates in the liver, not due to tumours spreading from other parts of the body, and it can be challenging to treat. The incidence rate of in Scotland is close to eight people per 100,000 people and the primary cause is alcohol misuse or hepatitis C. Treatment depends on the stage of the disease and liver function and other options include surgery, ablation, trans-arterial therapies and best supportive care.

Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Communications & Policy, British Liver Trust said: “SHTG’s approval of SIRT is an important step forward in the treatment of HCC patients in Scotland. HCC is the most common form of primary liver cancer and has a poor prognosis and very few available treatments. Often, the disease is diagnosed so late that palliative care is the only option. The addition of SIRT to the available treatments not only positively impacts those individuals who for whom it is suitable but can also have a huge positive impact on their families and the wider community.”