Experts are constantly trying to find better ways to target tumors, because cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world today. Some scientists say they have found a better way of using 3D imaging to help with this and they feel that all doctors should try this method.

Reuters reports on how 3D imaging can be used to target tumors. Apparently this new technology could greatly help cancer patients.

The scientists conducted the study in Great Britain. They have developed a new use for 3D printing, putting it to work to create personalized replica models of cancerous parts of the body. The scientists say this will help physicians target tumors more precisely. This is the latest strategy in an era of rapidly evolving medical technology.

How does 3D printing work?

“3D printing makes products by layering material until a three-dimensional object is created. Automotive and aerospace companies use it for producing prototypes as well as creating specialized tools moldings and some end-use parts. The new cancer work involves printing 3D phantoms of tumors and organs based on CT scans taken of patients during treatment. These plastic molds can be filled with liquid, allowing experts see in detail the flow of so-called radiopharmaceuticals,” according to Reuters.

What are these pharmaceuticals?

These are drugs containing radioactive material that can be taken by injecting it into a vein, taking it by mouth or put in a body cavity. The challenge is to give a dose that is high enough to kill cancer cells, without causing excessive collateral damage to healthy tissue.

What do researchers hope to get from this? They find that accurate modeling will allow doctors in the future to fine-tune dosing. Researchers hope that this will result in the likely routine use of such 3D printouts.

Dr. Flux, head of radioisotope physics at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, advocates this new approach. He said, “If we personalize treatment according to the radiation dose delivered to the tumor, then we should have a better outcome. I think it will have a huge impact.”

Flux and his research team published a technical paper on their process in the journal Medical Physics in July. This showed that the models could accurately replicate the shape of a patient's tumor and the surrounding organs. They are now looking to confirm the advantages in larger scale studies.

This is not the first time that these types of pharmaceuticals are being used. Radiopharmaceuticals are generally utilized to treat many types of different tumors. These include but are not limited to: thyroid cancer, cancers of nerves cells in children and certain tumors that have spread to the bones. This new interest in the field has been sparked by the recent launch of Bayer's prostate cancer radiopharmaceutical known as Xofigo.

Reuters reports, “The team in London used a 3D printer from Stratasys, one of the leading suppliers of high-end machines. In October, Stratasys executives said the global 3D-printing market was expected to swell from $3 billion last year to $21 billion by 2020, according to industry research.”

Experts are encouraging patients to be their own best advocates by looking into this technology for their care if their physician has not already looked into it him or herself.

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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