3D software, printer adds new dimension to cancer care

Talk about personalized cancer care.

Ascension Via Christi Cancer Center is now using a 3D printer and specialized software to create patient-specific radiation therapy devices for treating some skin and breast cancers.

When treating patients with skin cancer or breast cancer patients with implants or tissue expanders, a "bolus," a material with properties equivalent to tissue when irradiated, is used to reduce or alter dosing for targeted radiation therapy.

When the bolus is made using the new 3D process, "It literally fits like a glove," says physicist Jeff Berry.

That helps make significant reductions in the air gaps that occur with the traditional method of using a hand-made wax bolus, he says. It also helps tailor the depth of the radiation to the size of the tumor or lesion, helping spare healthy tissue and provide superior dose distribution.

It also eliminates the need for patients to be present while the mold is created, providing an extra layer of convenience and comfort.

"We do a CT scan of the area to be treated and patients go home," says Berry. "They don't have to be present because the design is completed within the software rather than on their body and the 3D printer fabricates the device.

" That's good news for patients like 92-year-old Wilma Hunt, who underwent treatment for skin cancer on her nose.

"It can take hours getting a wax bolus just right," says her daughter Jana Burks, who before retiring last October as an Ascension Via Christi financial analyst helped make the business case for acquiring the modeling software and 3D printer. "This is so much more convenient for patients like my mom and for the clinicians providing their care."

The Ascension Via Christi Cancer Center team has been using the 3D software and printer since December 2021 and is excited about the added patient comfort and convenience and the time it saves them in the treatment planning process.

"It's one more tool we have to further improve patient outcomes and their overall patient experience while in our care," says radiation oncologist Salman Hasan, DO. "We anticipate that there will be other new and innovative applications of this customized modeling system in the future."

Learn more about Cancer Care at Ascension Via Christi: https://healthcare.ascension.org/locations/kansas/kswic/wichita-ascension-via-christi-cancer-center?utm_campaign=gmb&utm_medium=organic&utm_source=local