OKLAHOMA CITY — Every year, Guthrie resident Donna Romine is diligent about getting her mammogram. In 2014, her diligence may have saved her life.

“One year it wasn’t there, the next year it was,” said Romine, 76, of her breast cancer.

Since doctors caught her cancer early and it was small (less than three centimeters) and not yet in her lymph nodes, she was a candidate for a unique radiation treatment, called a strut adjusted volume implant (SAVI), which preserves the tissue around the tumor, helps prevent scarring and radiation burns, and reduces treatment time.

Unlike traditional radiation that shoots radiation beams through the skin, often burning and scarring the skin, a breast surgeon surgically implants the SAVI device through a small incision in the breast after surgically removing the tumor.

The SAVI device is placed in the area of the breast where the tumor was removed. The small device features tubes that deliver the radiation to specific areas in the breast to kill off any remaining cancer cells.

“We can actually shape the dose to the contours of the cavity that we want and we can spare the skin and the ribs much better than we can with most of the other devices on the market right now,” said Dr. Foster Lasley, radiation oncologist at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City.

Radiation oncologists can deliver individual doses of radiation through each of the tubes, allowing physicians the ability to customize the treatment for every qualifying patient based on the shape, size and location of the treatment area. This saves the tissue around the treatment area, in addition to the reduction in scarring and burning.

The process also saves time. Typical radiation treatment time can take about seven weeks, but the SAVI procedure requires treatment at Mercy twice a day for just five days.

For Donna, the shortened treatment time was a big win. She lives in Guthrie and said, although it isn’t far to Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City, it was a lot easier to come for treatments over a week rather than up to seven weeks.

“If I had to do it all over again, I’d choose the same treatment,” she said. She finished radiation treatment and was feeling fine within a few days. “The SAVI treatment was wonderful. I think it’s awesome.”

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