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Doc Talk| How doctors are beating breast cancer from the inside out

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When you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, radiation is used to eliminate the cancer cells from your body. But radiation can work from the outside in and the inside out. When doctors use radiation from the inside out, they’re most likely relying on a device called the Savi, which doctors say is a great option.

After 14 years of working in hospice, Barbara McCutcheun knew what a breast cancer diagnosis could mean.

“I saw a lot of women die from breast cancer. It was hard,” said McCutcheun.

When she learned she had breast cancer, “my head went quickly to the women who didn’t survive.”

But doctors found her cancer early, making her a perfect candidate to treat it with a Savi after her surgery. The SAVI device was inserted into her breast twice a day for five days, sending radiation through small catheters.

“It’s also done very shortly after your surgery while you’re still recovering from your surgery whereas radiation from external beam, you wait until you’re healed about three weeks or so and then you go thru radiation,” said Geisinger Holy Spirit breast surgeon Dr. Angela Soto Hamlin.

Though quick and just as effective as external radiation, doctors say the Savi can be awkward.

“The entire time that you’re getting the radiation, the vehicle through which the radiation goes in is hanging out of your body it is very, very inconvenient,” said Soto Hamlin.

But McCutcheun never found this to be the case.

“I had no feeling of any problems during the treatments, after the treatments, when they inserted the SAVI, when they took it out,” said McCutcheun.

McCutcheun says she had no side effects. Looking back, a year after her diagnosis, McCutcheun says if anything, she’s grateful.

“I feel great. I feel great.”

Doctors say if the Savi is only an option if they find the cancer early and the tumor is relatively small.

If you were recently diagnosed with breast cancer, ask your doctor about the Savi.

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