A step forward for breast cancer surgery

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Area Novant Health medical centers are the first in the state to offer a new approach in breast cancer surgery, reducing wait times and anxiety for patients while also improving outcomes.

The new SAVI SCOUT radar localization system uses a reflector plate to help surgeons pinpoint and remove identified tumors. These devices can be placed much earlier than the wire localization procedure, which required patients to arrive several hours prior to surgery and undergo a much less comfortable experience.

“It is an unknown time frame,” said Dr. Peter Turk, referring to previous delays between placing the wire in radiology and then coordinating with the surgery schedule. “As part of the patient’s comfort, that’s one of the worst parts.”

Those wait times often exacerbate the anxiety patients experience before entering the operating room. The SAVI SCOUT approach greatly reduces that downtime, said Turk, a surgical oncologist at Carolina Surgical Clinic of Charlotte and member of Novant’s Multi-Disciplinary Breast Cancer Program.

“It’s like a Geiger counter,” Turk said when explaining the SAVI SCOUT device. Once the reflector plate is guided into place to isolate the location of the cancerous tissue, the surgeon then scans the breast using the SCOUT guide. The guide emits an infrared light and a micro-impulse signal to detect the location of the reflector. Being able to locate the tissue with increased accuracy also allows surgeons to potentially reduce the size of the affected area, which can improve cosmetic outcomes.

The more precise locator may also reduce the chances of additional treatment, Turk said.

“What that means is you don’t have to come back for a second surgery,” he said.

As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, Amy Bell had heard first-hand of the discomfort that accompanies the wire location procedure. After noticing irregularities on her breasts during a nightly check a few weeks ago, Bell is now grateful for the advancements in treatment she experienced.
“I knew from talking to my mom what she went through,” Bell said. “It was really uncomfortable for her, and painful, but this was super easy.”

Unlike her mother, who arrived at the hospital hours before her scheduled surgery to have the wire locator implanted, Bell had the reflector placed two days prior to her procedure.

“I didn’t even feel pressure. She [the radiologist] said I would but I didn’t,” Bell said. “I went home and took some Tylenol, and I didn’t have any pain.”
When asked if she experienced discomfort following the placement and leading up to the surgery, Bell said, “I didn’t even know it was there.”

That improved level of comfort, which Bell added “was not as bad as even having your blood drawn,” is a great step forward in improving the treatment and outcome for breast cancer patients, said Turk.

As providers continue to log data and results from the SAVI SCOUT system, Turk said patients may eventually be able to have the reflector placed immediately at the time of diagnosis, further reducing treatment intervals and accuracy.

Bell, who is also the niece of a three-time survivor and the grand-niece of two breast cancer victims, said she a strong advocate of regular self-exams. Early detection plays an integral role in improving the outcome of treatment, but she’s also encouraged to have experienced the advancements in treatment and thankful for her treatment at Novant.

“Everyone kind of holds your hand and walks you through,” she said.

For more information about local breast cancer resources provided by Novant, visit www.novanthealth.org and search “breast cancer.” For more information about the SAVI SCOUT system, including support groups, visitwww.savisisters.com.

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