SAVI breast brachytherapy has multiple benefits

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Dec. 6 – Strut-adjusted volume implant (SAVI), an advanced treatment for breast cancer, provides patients, breast surgeons and radiation oncologists with multiple benefits, according to research presented at the 93rd scientific assembly and annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago last week.

The full results were reported in a podium presentation “Early Experience with the SAVI for Multi-Catheter Single Entry High-Dose Rate Breast Brachytherapy” by Dan Scanderbeg, PhD, radiation physics fellow, at the University of California in San Diego (USCD). Researchers used the SAVI applicator from Cianna, a single-entry, multi-catheter device that delivers partial breast irradiation, bypassing healthy tissue.

The research, performed at the Rebecca and John Moores USCD Cancer Center, was led by Catheryn Yashar, MD, assistant professor and chief of breast and gynecological services in the department of radiation oncology at USCD.

“Our early experience with SAVI has been excellent,” Yashar said.  “We were able to reproducibly treat the lumpectomy site and avoid healthy tissue such as the skin, chest wall, and lungs because the radiation dose is precisely targeted. The device is also well tolerated by the patient and relatively easy for the physician to place.”

Yashar and her colleagues reported that treatment with the applicator is effective in multiple ways:

  • SAVI is simple to insert, using local anesthesia and ultrasound guidance;
  • The applicator provides excellent coverage of the tumor bed;
  • SAVI makes it possible to conform the radiation dosage to the targeted area; offering better protection to healthy structures such as the skin, chest wall, and lungs;
  • Daily quality assurance can be done with scout films (ordinary x-rays) rather than CT scans, which substantially reduces the patient’s exposure to radiation and is more convenient;
  • The applicator rarely moves between treatments, allowing the original treatment plan to remain valid throughout the course of treatment. The fact that SAVI stays in place after insertion is also the reason CT scans are not needed for quality assurance;
  • SAVI is nearly painless to remove after treatment is concluded, so no anesthesia is needed; and 
  • The treatment is well-tolerated by patients.