New Treatment Option For Liver Cancer Patients

Posted on: 31st March 2016

British Liver Trust welcomes NICE endorsement for Inoperable Primary Liver Cancer treatment

The British Liver Trust has welcomed the advice from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) that doctors can consider using SIR-Spheres® Y-90 resin microspheres as a new treatment  alternative to existing therapy for patients with inoperable primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC).

Despite the recent news from Cancer Research UK that Cancer death rates in the UK have fallen by nearly 10 per cent over 10 years, largely due to improvements in detection, diagnosis and treatments, for some cancers, such as liver and pancreatic, the rates of people dying from the disease have increased over the last decade.

The new NICE Medtech Innovation Briefing (MIB) published today states that patients with inoperable HCC have a poor outcome and limited effective treatment options, and that existing evidence suggests that SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are as effective as existing therapy, (trans-arterial chemoembolization (TACE) or sorafenib). 

A significant advantage of the treatment is the benefit to patients as most patients treated with SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres require only a single treatment which means reduced side-effects compared with multiple procedures or on-going drug therapy.

SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are an innovative form of local radiotherapy typically delivering 30–40 million tiny radioactive beads directly to liver tumours via the bloodstream, which permits a uniform distribution of radioactivity around the tumour sites whilst sparing normal liver cells. 

The treatment offers a further option for HCC and in a few patients with inoperable HCC, treatment with SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres has sufficiently reduced the size of liver tumours to allow potentially curative surgery with liver resection, ablation or transplantation.

The NICE advice has received widespread welcome from both the clinical and patient communities.

Professor Daniel Palmer, Chair of Medical Oncology, University of Liverpool and Clatterbridge Cancer Centre said, “This NICE MIB is welcomed, as it opens the door for UK HCC patients to have access to SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres as a well-tolerated alternative to other standard therapies.  This is good news for both HCC patients and their doctors, who over the years have had limited effective treatment options available to them. Whilst exciting further research with this technology is already well along the way to completion, the new NICE MIB advice may be particularly important for those patients who can’t tolerate TACE or sorafenib or are ineligible for these treatments.”

Andrew Langford, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, stated that: “For many years, patients with inoperable HCC have had access to only two effective therapy options.  Now, with the publication of the NICE MIB, NHS patients will have a further option in the form of SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres. This form of local radiotherapy is well tolerated and convenient for the patient.”