Brachytherapy For Breast Cancer

Gamma West Services in Salt Lake City is a national leader in providing women with high-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy to cure breast cancer, also known as accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI). HDR brachytherapy is a shortened course of internal radiation therapy for early-stage patients. Brachytherapy for breast cancer treatment is delivered as part of breast conservation therapy, which consists of lumpectomy surgery followed by radiation delivered via an applicator.

Traditional radiation treatment is whole breast external beam radiation, a full course of radiation delivery requiring daily treatments for 5-7 weeks exposing the entire breast and surrounding critical structures to radiation. HDR brachytherapy for breast cancer treatment delivers radiation only to the lumpectomy cavity and the immediate surrounding tissue.

As a result, HDR brachytherapy offers two significant advantages over whole breast irradiation:

Reduces treatment time from several weeks to just 5 days
Spares healthy tissue from radiation

The SAVI® Applicator
Gamma West is pleased to share its success using the SAVI applicator device. The SAVI device depicted below is the most sophisticated, flexible 5-day breast brachytherapy delivery system available today. It is the only single-entry device that allows physicians to customize radiation treatments based on patient-specific anatomy. The treatments are painless and deliver in 5 days the same highly effective radiation dose normally given in 7 weeks with external beam radiation.


Gamma West Radiation Oncologists have successfully partnered with general surgeons throughout Utah in using the SAVI® device to deliver a conformal and targeted dose to the lumpectomy cavity resulting in high cure rates for the patient. Dr. Steven Mintz, one of the general surgeons, notes, “When utilizing surgical techniques, SAVI is easier to use, provides more options, and causes less discomfort for patients. The SAVI device can also be put into much smaller cavities than competing technologies creating more options for our patients.”

Dr. John K. Hayes, founder and Medical Director of Gamma West Services also explains that “one of the benefits of using localized radiation is that it preserves options for the patient in the future. If she has already had whole breast radiation therapy and something was to happen in the future, whether it’s a recurrence or a second cancer, her options become more limited.”

The SAVI applicator was designed to treat the tissue closest to the removed tumor by fitting into the lumpectomy cavity and delivering targeted radiation through multiple catheters. Each catheter independently delivers radiation to the tissue which allows the physician to customize the radiation dose. This customized approach minimizes the amount of radiation exposure while targeting the tissue most at risk for recurrence.

The closed applicator is inserted into the lumpectomy cavity through a single incision. Placement of the applicator can be done at the time of the lumpectomy or as a post-operative procedure.
Once the applicator is placed in the cavity, rotation of the expansion tool deploys the catheters, conforming to the size of the cavity.
Radiation Delivery
The individual catheters are connected to an HDR brachytherapy radiation source. The multiple catheters offer more flexibility to contour the dose.
After the final treatment, the applicator is collapsed and removed.