A breakthrough radiotherapy treatment for liver patients suffering from neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) has been approved by the NHS.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) announced the new guidance on May 16.

Prior to this, selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT) was only available for patients with liver cancer that originated within the organ or spread from the bowel. Now, however, SIRT can be accessed by patients with NETs in the liver.

SIRT treatment involves injecting millions of minute radioactive beads, or microspheres, into the liver's blood supply. These beads stick to the liver cancer cells' small blood vessels, releasing radiation to destroy them.

The radiation's scope is limited, ensuring minimal damage to the surrounding healthy cells.

NICE reported that SIRT, a process lasting around one to two hours, could result in lesser side effects, quicker recovery times and an improved quality of life compared to surgery or chemotherapy.

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The cancer charity PLANETS, which supports patients with pancreatic, liver, colorectal, abdominal and NET cancers, has long campaigned for SIRT to be recommended.

Calling the decision a "major step forward," PLANETS emphasised its significance for patients battling this rare `type of cancer.

NETs arise from cells linking the nervous system and the endocrine system. With approximately 6,000 new cases diagnosed annually in the UK, the disease is usually found in the pancreas, bowel or lungs.

Most NETs cases are discovered at a later stage, often after the cancer has spread to other body parts like the liver, making treatment more challenging.

Layla Stephen, a NET cancer patient and CEO of PLANETS, said: "We are so pleased NICE has issued this new guideline on SIRT as it will help ensure that more cancer patients in England can access this invaluable treatment option if funding is made available by NHS England.

"This is a major step forward for NET patients who, until now, have only had access to this treatment privately.

"Making SIRT available will make a significant difference as it not only provides another treatment option but one that offers fewer side effects, less visits to hospital and a better quality of life."