Catheryn Yashar, M.D.
UCSD Moores Cancer Center
San Diego, CA
My patients in Southern California are generally very intelligent, thoughtful, and health conscious. They exercise, pay attention to diet and, when it comes to medical interventions, they want to make sure to do enough, but are wary of excessive treatment. Many are concerned about radiation. Of course, they don’t want their cancer to recur, but at the same time, they want to minimize the risk of radiation exposure to organs that don’t need to be – and shouldn’t be – exposed. Accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) allows targeting of tissues at risk, with simultaneous sparing of normal tissues. Compared with some other single entry options, SAVI does the best job at shaping and targeting the radiation dose and allowing us to spare normal tissue from unnecessary and undesirable radiation.
I am very excited about being part of what I see as a paradigm shift in breast cancer treatment. APBI has the potential to completely change the standard of care for many women, and SAVI has played a large part in realization of that hope. While most women do well with whole breast irradiation some women developed weakened muscles, a smaller, firmer, darker breast, and unnecessary dose to the ribs, lungs, and at times, even the heart. While there have been other important advances over the years, SAVI is helping us take a giant leap forward, treating women in just five days and giving them radiation only in the places where they need it.
It’s incredibly helpful for my patients to talk to other women, to ask questions of those who have faced similar health challenges and treatment issues and, once they they’ve been treated, to offer help to the newly diagnosed. It’s great to have an organization like SAVI Sisters to facilitate the formation of this type of support network among women. With SAVI Sisters, my patients can gain a better understanding of their treatment options through the stories and experiences of other women. This can happen both on a national level through the website, and at a local level by connecting my patients with each other here in Southern California. Not only can the SAVI Sisters help other women, but they can also help spread the word to their primary care doctors and OB/Gyns, who may not know about SAVI or other partial breast irradiation treatments.