New technology targets breast cancer tumors

HOUSTON – Cheryl Smith is two weeks out from removing a breast cancer tumor.

“It was not in any way inhibiting or uncomfortable to me,” she said.

As a pastor, she's walked people through lengthy diagnoses and treatments before but said her time from testing in September to the operating table and back to real life has been a whirlwind.

“I'm doing well, getting stronger every day, building my strength. Went back to work for a little bit of a time today and I'll increase that amount every day until I'm back at full speed,” Smith said.

Smith’s doctor used a new technology on her that’s meant to make surgery and pre-op more comfortable in breast cancer patients.

The Savi Scout technology is inserted before an operation. Then the implant stays inside the breast, eliminating an older method using a wire that sticks out of the breast tissue. This allows doctors to precisely pinpoint the cancer inside of the breast.

“On the day of surgery, I use a radar detection device in the OR, a probe that looks for that reflector and then allows me to do targeted surgery on the breast using a wireless technology,” Dr. Loren Rourke, Houston Methodist regional breast program director, said.

Smith said it helped eliminate her anxiety and she's now on her way to recovery.

“I've got radiation and medication over a long haul, but I have nothing but good things to look forward to,” Smith said.

When it's time for radiation, the Savi company has another, similar device (Savi brachytherapy) that can be inserted into the breast to target radiation. It’s designed to lessen radiation exposure to major organs like the lungs and heart.

The company said the brachytherapy reduces radiation treatments from six to seven weeks to just five days.

Savi brachytherapy is currently available at Houston Methodist in Sugar Land.