Pioneered by an Australian, this radiation therapy is most often used for bowel cancer patients who develop secondary liver cancer but is expected to be extended to other cancers. The treatment was previously available only to patients in clinical trials who could afford the $8000 cost. But now the treatment is to be covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Dr Nick Pavlakis an oncologist of the Royal North Shore Hospital said that the treatment would become routine as it had been through several clinical trials and did improve outcomes compared to chemotherapy alone. The doctor explained that unlike most cancer treatments, which work by destroying both healthy and malignant cells, the therapy involves microscopic radioactive spheres delivered directly to liver tumors. "It is a one-off treatment," Dr Pavlakis said.
Sydney nurse Jane Sellwood discovered soon after the birth of her third child that she had advanced colon cancer that had spread to her liver. A six-month course of chemotherapy and the surgical removal of two-thirds of her liver failed to halt the cancer. She said that when she was first diagnosed she looked up all her old nursing textbooks and learnt that secondary liver cancer didn't have a good survival rate.
Dr Nick Pavlakis of the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney explained that
she had an advanced cancer, and for all intents and purposes it looked incurable. As a last resort Dr Pavlakis recommended an Australian developed treatment known as Selective Internal Radiation Spheres (SIRT).
Now this Sydney woman is celebrating the best Mother's Day gift she could imagine as she has been told she's clear of cancer thanks to the revolutionary treatment. Doctors do warn that it's not a cure for everyone, and will need to be backed up with chemotherapy. But still to Dr Pavlakis feels that, this is a wonderful tool to have, to be able to potentially cure people or at least reduce the cancer so that people may live substantially longer.