Hospital joins national trial for cancer treatment

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A hospital in Yorkshire is set to join a national test of a treatment for cancer which sees radioactive beads injected into patients.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is one of 10 trusts throughout the country joining the £4.8m scheme, aimed at increasing access to specialist radiotherapy.

Some patients with liver cancer that has spread from the bowel, and bile duct cancer, will take part in the study at the Bexley Wing at St James’s Hospital.

The initiative is designed to assess the effectiveness of the treatment and is expected to be funded for up to three years.

NHS England said it was a chance for suitable patients to access the SIRT treatment, which shows significant promise, but is not accessible through a formal research trial.

Leeds-based Dr Adrian Crellin, chair of NHS England’s SIRT Commissioning through Evaluation Steering Group, said: “This is a very exciting development for those patients who can potentially benefit from treatment with SIRT, and for those clinicians who wish to contribute to the growing evidence base supporting this treatment.

“NHS England is committed to expanding access to all forms of specialist radiotherapy, and we await the outcome of this innovative commissioning programme with some anticipation, as is it will help us determine how best to deliver these important, and life-saving, services to patients in the future”.

Since April 2013, NHS patients in England have been unable to receive SIRT after it was removed from the Cancer Drugs Fund scheme.

In the first year of the new programme, around 220 patients are expected to be treated.

The news comes as a major cancer-driving protein that has evaded scientists for three decades may finally have been tamed, raising the hope of new treatments.

Researchers in the US have developed molecules that target and block the mutant protein, called ras, without affecting its healthy “normal” cousins.