The newest breast cancer treatment option available at Cooper Cancer Institute is SAVI® (Strut Assisted Volume Implant). SAVI® is a new technology designed to deliver partial breast irradiation after lumpectomy in some women with early-stage breast cancer.
Radiation treatments for breast cancer can be given with external or internal radiation. With external radiation, also called whole-breast irradiation, high-energy beams pass through the skin to treat the entire breast and eliminate cancer cells that could remain after a breast cancer tumor is removed. Treatment usually takes place daily for five to seven weeks.
With SAVI® , radiation is delivered from inside the breast directly to the area where cancer is most likely to recur. Brachytherapy delivers radiation from inside the body to treat many types of cancers.
“The SAVI® technique reduces radiation exposure to healthy tissue. Since the dosage of radiation is higher and more precise than external radiation therapy, it can be completed in just five to seven days,” saysAshraf Youssef, MD, a Cooper Radiation Oncologist who is an expert in partial breast irradiation. “Side effects such as skin burning and fatigue are minimized, and most women continue normal activities through and immediately following treatment.”
The SAVI® device is a bundle of soft tiny catheters that is placed inside the tissue cavity left by a lumpectomy. Cooper surgeons place the SAVI® device at the time of lumpectomy or during a separate surgery. Only a small incision is needed. “Once placed, the catheter bundle expands and is adjusted to conform to the size and shape of the tumor cavity,” says Dr. Youssef.
“During each treatment the radiation dose is individually controlled through tiny catheters – allowing precise targeting,” explains Dr. Youssef. “This allows the radiation oncologist to deliver the best dose for the affected tissue, and the most protection for surrounding healthy tissue.”
The catheters are soft and flexible. Most women find them to be relatively comfortable during the weeklong treatment period.
Once radiation treatment is completed, the SAVI® device is removed and the incision site is cleaned and closed with adhesive strips.
“Not all women with early-stage breast cancer are candidates for this treatment, but for those who are and for those who choose lumpectomy, the SAVI® technique is an exciting new radiation therapy option,” says Dr. Youssef.