Dart Foundation Grant Improves the Lives of Women with Breast Cancer

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SFBH Acquires New State-of-the-Art Savi Scout for Breast Surgery

 Most people think of radar as a method of detecting airplanes, ships or even weather formations. But it’s also improving the lives of women with early stage breast cancer. Thanks to a generous $59,250 grant from the Dart Foundation, South Florida Baptist Hospital recently acquired the Savi Scout, a high-tech system that uses an advanced radar technology to pinpoint the location of tumors so tiny they can’t be detected by touch. 

“Having the Savi Scout places South Florida Baptist Hospital at the forefront of breast cancer surgery,” says Stephen Butler, M.D., SFBH surgeon. “There are many large medical centers around the country that don’t yet have this new technology.”

The Scout is an alternative to needle localization for both surgical biopsy and lumpectomy, also called breast-conserving surgery.  During needle localization, a small wire is threaded through a needle and inserted into the site of abnormal breast tissue. The wire remains inside the breast, but also extends outside the body. It serves as a marker to guide the surgeon to the right spot during surgery. 

Although the technique is effective, there are disadvantages, particularly from the patient’s point of view.  The wire is visible, which can feel awkward, and it can be uncomfortable. In addition, there is the potential for the wire to shift or dislodge. To minimize the chance of that happening, the needle localization has to take place early on the morning of the surgery.

That not only makes for a long day, but as Vikki O’Neal, former interim manager of Radiology, points out, it can be extremely stressful for patients.  “It’s already frightening to learn you may have breast cancer, but to wait for surgery while you have a wire protruding from the body can be traumatic,” says Vikki.

The Savi Scout transforms the process.  A tiny wireless device, called a reflector, is placed inside the breast at the tumor site up to a month before the surgery.  The reflector is about the size of a grain of sand, so it can’t be felt or seen.  “It is much more convenient for patients and causes less anxiety, says Sandra Moran, Radiology Imaging manager.  “Patients can shower and resume their daily activities without worrying about the device.”

Susan Musser, R. N., director of Surgical Services, agrees.  “We are very appreciative of the Dart Foundation for making this technology available to the women in our community.  The Savi Scout provides needleless localization breast biopsy, which improves patient comfort and is less painful, as well as less traumatic to the tissue.” 

According to Sandra, the Savi Scout is a more precise localization technique than conventional wire placement.  The Savi Scout uses micro-impulse radar, which sends out short electromagnetic waves to detect the reflector’s location with greater accuracy. “It allows us to be very positive about the area we’re removing and confident that there is an adequate margin of healthy tissue,” says Dr. Butler. 

Susann Moody, a representative of the Dart Foundation, says the Dart Foundation is excited about this opportunity to give back and improve the quality of life for people in the Plant City community. “Learning what a tremendous positive impact the new device will have on women’s lives and how it will lessen their discomfort during a difficult time makes our grant even more meaningful, says Susann.

The Dart Foundation is a private family foundation established by Dart Container Corporation founder William A. Dart and his wife Claire T. Dart.  The Foundation supports projects that enhance education, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, and those that improve the quality of life in specific communities.

“As a nonprofit community hospital, we depend on the help of donors to provide the margin of excellence for our patients,” says Karen Kerr, SFBH president. “We are very grateful to the Dart Foundation for their very generous gift that will help families in our community.”