The classic med school model of practicing surgery on cadavers may soon be a thing of the past. Some doctors are now using 3-D printing models of patients’ organs as guides to improve outcomes of cancer treatment.
3-D Printing Improves Success of Prostate Cancer Treatment
While 3-D printing has been around since the mid-1980s, it’s just now coming into focus as a valuable tool for medical applications. One of the current pioneers of 3-D “surgery” is the USC Institute of Urology of Keck Medicine of USC.
Surgeons such as Dr. Inderbir Gill, executive director of the Institute, are using 3-D printed organs for patients with prostate cancer. The reproduction allows doctors to determine the precise location of tumors, which is virtually impossible to do during actual surgery.
Working with a 3-D model also helps surgeons reduce the risk of serious side effects that can occur during contact with areas surrounding the prostate. According to Dr. Gill, precision tools such as 3-D printing greatly improve the chances of completely removing the cancer.
Fine-Tuning Medication Dosage with 3-D Models
Another promising application of 3-D medical printing in cancer treatment involves the use of radiopharmaceuticals. Drugs containing radioactive material are administered to patients intravenously, orally, or placed inside a body cavity.
It’s challenging to determine a radiopharmaceutical dose that’s powerful enough to kill cancer cells without damaging healthy tissues as well. 3-D printing provides a vehicle to find the right balance.
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