News | May 14, 2008

Study Says Breast Cancer Radiation Therapy Technology Protect Tissue

May 15, 2008 - New research conducted at Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego shows that the SAVI breast brachytherapy applicator, a new approach for delivering accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI), may provide better protection of healthy tissue than other partial breast irradiation methods.

The research team, led by Catheryn Yashar, M.D., assistant professor and chief of breast and gynecological services in the UC San Diego Department of Radiation Oncology, presented study results at the recent 2008 World Congress of Brachytherapy.

Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego is one of the first medical facilities in the nation to offer SAVI.

The UC San Diego team reported that the SAVI applicator provided better protection of skin, lung and chest wall/rib tissue than two earlier methods of radiation treatment. That advantage reportedly makes SAVI a viable treatment option for patients whose anatomy or surgical cavity location may prevent them from being treated by the other methods, according to the scientific poster presentation of the study.

The study of 9 patients, titled “Dosimetric Comparison of Three Methods of Partial Breast Irradiation,” compared SAVI to a widely used balloon brachytherapy applicator and three-dimensional conformal external beam radiation (3DCF).

“As this study shows, the ability of the newer device to conform more closely to the surgical cavity provides some important advantages,” said Dr. Yashar. “Small-breasted women and those whose surgical cavity is close to critical structures, such as the skin or chest wall, should now be able to benefit from accelerated partial breast irradiation because of this technology.”

While APBI has reportedly produced excellent preliminary results no matter which method is used, some methods have presented problems with certain patients, the researchers noted. SAVI was designed to minimize some of the constraints imposed by other approaches.

SAVI is a single-entry, multi-catheter device that delivers radiation as part of breast conservation therapy. By more precisely targeting radiation therapy, SAVI treats the tissue where the cancer is most likely to recur, while minimizing the exposure of healthy tissue such as the skin, heart, lungs and ribs.

“SAVI is easy to place, as are other single-entry brachytherapy devices,” said Dr. Yashar. “Its real advance is its ability to cover the target area while minimizing radiation exposure of non-target tissue.”

Each of SAVI’s multiple catheters can be differentially loaded to conform the radiation dose to a patient’s specific anatomy. SAVI is the only APBI applicator that can contour the radiation dose to the size and shape of the cavity bed. Without the technical limitations of balloon brachytherapy, SAVI substantially increases the number of women who qualify for the benefits of APBI.

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