UW Medicine using cutting-edge technology to help locate breast tumors

SEATTLE — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight U.S. women will get breast cancer. Until recently, surgery to remove tissue and tumors involved invasive wires but cutting-edge technology at UW Medicine aims to change that.

Many women who are diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer have a tumor that is too small to see or feel. The new technology called “Savi Scout” is a less invasive way than old technologies for surgeons to locate the tumor.

In the past, patients had to have a wire inserted into their breast on the day of surgery.

“That’s one piece that really got me nervous and uncomfortable,” said Dawn Weyant, a breast disease patient.

Weyant was diagnosed with breast disease in February 2017. After consulting her doctor at UW Medicine she decided to use the Savi Scout technology to remove some tissue in August 2017.

A Savi Scout reflector, smaller than a grain of rice, is placed into the target tissue days before surgery. During surgery, the Savi Scout machine uses radar to detect that reflector, allowing the surgeon to find the best path to the tissue or tumor.

Weyant says the newer, less invasive technology gave her more peace of mind going into her surgery.

“It was very comfortable and secure feeling knowing that had been taken care of in advance of the surgery.”

Doctors say the technology helps increase the likelihood of complete cancer removal and reduces the changes that the patient will need a second surgery.

“I feel like as a woman, be smart. Take advantage of the technology,” said Weyant.

The Scout reflector that is placed in a woman’s breast is not externally visible, you can’t feel it and it never needs to be removed.

The technology is available at over 350 hospitals across the U.S.