13 Friends for Life: Dr. Gilbert Padula of Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center talks about SAVI breast cancer treatment

Mercy Health Comprehensive Breast Center

Gil Padula, MD, is Medical Director, Technology and Innovation at Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center

For more information, visit www.mercyhealthbreastcare.com. In Grand Rapids, call

616.202.2699; in Muskegon call 231.238.3548.

SAVI – a breast cancer treatment that can take as little as five days


The SAVI applicator delivers a form of accelerated partial breast radiation (APBI) known as breast brachytherapy, which delivers radiation from inside the breast. This allows physicians to precisely deliver treatment to the tumor cavity and surrounding tissue, and o­ffers two key advantages: it spares healthy tissue from unnecessary radiation and reduces treatment time from 4-6 weeks to just 5 days.


SAVI uses a bundle of catheters to deliver radiation. The catheters are expanded to fi t the size and shape of the cavity, and a tiny radioactive seed travels through each catheter. This allows every catheter to deliver an individual dose of radiation, so physicians can customize treatment for every patient, regardless of the size, shape, or location of their tumor cavity.


The Physician gently inserts SAVI in a closed position through a small incision, and then expands the catheters to conform to the shape of the cavity. The ends of the catheters remain outside the breast for radiation delivery. SAVI remains in the breast during the entire course of treatment.


The radiation oncologist performs a CT scan and uses those images to create a customized treatment plan to deliver radiation to the areas that need it most, while protecting the skin, chest wall, heart and lungs.


Treatment is delivered twice a day for 5 days. Each treatment lasts approximately 10 minutes. The ends of the catheters are connected to a device—called an HDR afterloader—and a computerized system painlessly delivers a wire with a tiny radioactive seed into each catheter. The seeds are completely removed after each treatment—no radiation remains in the patient's body between treatments. After the last treatment, the physician closes the device and removes it through the same incision in which it was inserted.

Benefits of SAVI Breast Brachytherapy

• Customizes radiation to individual patient

• Excellent local control of cancer

• Reduces toxicity from unnecessary radiation

• Treatment lasts just 5 days