October 21, 2011 — When we think about breast cancer, most of us think of it as a disease only affecting women. The truth is, about 2,140 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
George Ross was one of those men. Ross is also the first man in Texas to receive the SAVI therapy, an advanced treatment device for breast cancer that provides multiple benefits for patients. The therapy reduces the course of treatment time from six weeks to just five days. Ross was treated at Methodist Dallas Medical Center.
The SAVI applicator can provide important advantages for patients with early-stage breast cancer by delivering a form of radiation therapy known as breast brachytherapy. This approach, which targets the tumor site from inside the breast, is becoming a more widely used alternative to traditional radiation.
Breast brachytherapy typically involves two treatments per day for only five days. This shorter timeframe makes it far more convenient than traditional, external-beam radiation. The latter is delivered five times a week and takes six or seven weeks.
In addition to shortening the therapy time, breast brachytherapy with SAVI minimizes radiation exposure for healthy tissue; this reduces impacts to critical structures such as the skin, heart, lungs and ribs.
"While male breast cancer is much less common than its female counterpart, we are pleased to offer the same leading edge technology for both men and women," says Arve Gillette, M.D., an independently practicing radiation oncologist on the medical staff at Methodist Health System. "We look forward to participating in other advances in treating this disease, whether for women, or the rare but increasingly frequent occurrences among men."
Ross, who discovered the lump that led to his diagnosis of breast cancer, is doing well after the treatment and offers a word of advice to other men. "Check yourself regularly," he says. "You never know."
Methodist Dallas Medical Center was named a Center of Excellence in accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) for its use of the SAVI applicator. The designation recognizes a facility's dedication to education, training and experience in APBI.
To qualify, physicians, medical physicists, and clinical staff are required to complete a comprehensive training and education program demonstrating proficiency in delivering radiation therapy with SAVI. Recognized facilities have also expressed a commitment to patient education, advocacy and awareness of advanced breast cancer treatments.
For more information: www.methodisthealthsystem.org