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'3D printer improves precision surgery for breast cancer'
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.10.23 13:17
  • Updated 2019.10.23 15:48
  • comments 0

A research team at Asan Medical Center has found that a surgical guide model using a 3D printer is effective in conducting customized surgery for breast cancer patients.

From left, Professors Ahn Sae-yeon, Ko Beom-seok and Kim Nam-gook

The team, led by Professors Ahn Sae-yeon, Ko Beom-seok and Kim Nam-gook at the hospital, applied a 3D surgical guided model after chemotherapy to five patients with locally advanced breast cancer for two months from December 2015.

It could remove cancer cleanly, and after an average of 45 months of follow-up, they also confirmed no recurrence. The customized breast cancer surgery guide model, developed by AMC, is a platform that uses a 3D printing model based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results.

The shape of the 3D model varies from patient to patient and helps the surgeon as they can place it on the patient's breast and accurately check the location of the surgery.

Until now, the surgical site has been marked by ultrasound before the surgery, but it was difficult to pinpoint the location of the tumor that remained after chemotherapy. That, in turn, caused the area removed during surgery different from the actual tumor range. It also sometimes forced hospitals to remove the tumor area for safe operation extensively.

Although MRI can identify small tumors in the breast more accurately than ultrasound, the tumor position at the time of examination is different from that at the time of surgery. That made it difficult to mark the location of cancer, which needs to be resected surgically.

By using the 3D surgical guide model with data from MRI test results, however, the surgical area can be accurately drawn on the skin of the breast, while doctors can stain the edges of tissues that need to be resected after anesthesia before surgery.

The researchers used a 3D surgical guide model to follow five local advanced breast cancer patients for an average of 45 months. They confirmed that all patients had completely resected the pathologic examination, including biopsy.

Also, there were no recurrences during the follow-up period and no side effects of using the surgical guide model.

The average distance from the tumor to the site of resection was only 1.2 cm, so the shape of the breast was well preserved.

"While the study only followed five patients during the early stages of the technology, since then, more than 150 breast cancer surgeries have been performed using 3D surgical guide models to great success," Professor Ko said.

To improve the quality of life of breast cancer patients, it is crucial to keep the shape as much as possible while removing cancer with surgery, so the team will continue to study surgical methods that can maintain not only the curative effect but also the cosmetic side, Ko added.

The journal Scientific Reports published the results of the study.


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