Using 3D Printed Models in the Fight Against Prostate Cancer

This week is Prostate Cancer Awareness Week! Did you know that prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States? In ­Cancer Statistics 2017, scientists from the American Cancer Society estimate that there will be over 161,000 new cases of prostate cancer among men in America this year. Although deaths from prostate cancer have dropped significantly over the past 20 years, an estimated 26,730 American men will die from the disease in 2017 alone.[i]  A lot of work remains to be done to reduce this number even further and to raise awareness about the disease.

Prostate Tumor Model 124w, 768w, 1024w, 449w" sizes="(max-width: 6016px) 100vw, 6016px" />
3D printed prostate tumor model showing the prostate (clear), cancer (blue), nerves (yellow), urethra (pink), rectal wall (white) 168w" sizes="(max-width: 613px) 100vw, 613px" />
MR image segmentation; Middle, virtual prostate cancer model; Right, 3D printed cancer model. Prostate (clear), cancer (blue), nerves (magenta), bladder neck and urethra (yellow), rectal wall (white).

For my PhD thesis project at the NYU School of Medicine, I am working with a collaborative team of radiologists and urological surgeons to investigate what impact 3D printed multi-colored models of a patient’s prostate cancer on can make on pre-surgical planning and intra-operative guidance.  Printed on the Stratasys J750, we are also using the models during patient consultations to see whether they can facilitate patients’ understanding of the disease and of the surgical treatment.  Most patients don’t know how to interpret radiological images, but may better understand the anatomy, disease, and surgical plan by handling 3D models and discussing the models with their doctors.

In order to create these patient-specific 3D printed models, the prostate is segmented from multi-parametric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies and converted to a 3D virtual model.

It is our hope that 3D printed prostate cancer models help to improve surgical outcomes and patient understanding of disease.  We also hope to increase public awareness of prostate cancer.  Click here to learn more about my research and 3D printing at NYU.  



[i] Siegel, R.L., K.D. Miller, and A. Jemal, Cancer Statistics, 2017. CA Cancer J Clin, 2017. 67(1): p. 7-30.

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