“Our study involves using a 3D printer to automate the design and fabrication of a material called bolus.”
Radiation can be a powerful tool for killing cancer cells when administered to the right areas at the appropriate doses.
Proceeds from our 2020 gala, Reel Rhapsody, are funding a new research project that will enhance the care of patients with head and neck cancers at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre.
“Our study involves using a 3D printer to automate the design and fabrication of a material called bolus,” says Dr. Orest Ostapiak, Senior Medical Physicist. “Made of plant-based starches, bolus is custom-made for each patient and is placed over areas of the skin that require full doses of radiation.”
Bolus helps radiation interact with skin more efficiently. The required size, shape and thickness of each patient’s bolus can be produced with extreme accuracy and consistency using the 3D printer.
To ensure appropriate radiation doses, the treatment area is geometrically mapped during the radiation-planning stage. Translating that geometry to a bolus has traditionally been a manual process, which can result in imprecise coverage. The use of the 3D printer will ensure patient safety and maximize effectiveness of treatment by targeting radiation specifically where needed.
Research will be conducted to refine bolus design, which will improve patient comfort, workflow efficiency and placement accuracy. Based on the outcome of this work, the team will explore other novel applications of 3D printing in radiation therapy.