Lung cancer is the largest cause of cancer deaths worldwide, with over 1 million deaths from lung cancer every year. That’s just one of the grim statistics that came out of a report this week, commissioned by the World Economic Forum and Lung Ambition Alliance on the hidden costs of COVID-19 on lung cancer across Europe. 

While the report makes for stark reading, there are some positive stories for lung cancer patients too. The skill and tenacity of our front line healthcare workers and advancements of technology continue to contribute to saving the lives of lung cancer patients in the midst of the pandemic, as you’ll see in the case below.

A surgeon treating a 71 year old woman suffering from lung cancer requested a 3D printed model of the lady’s lung to assist with planning an operation to remove a tumor and support him in explaining the course of treatment to the patient.

The model was created using existing CT scans of the lady’s lungs, with each region of anatomy within the 3D lung model marked a different color to clearly define the location of the tumor within the lung, as you can see in the model above.

The 3D model was incredibly useful in making it easier for the surgeon to understand the scale and the precise location of the tumor, enabling more informed decision making and higher confidence in his plan than from using the patient’s 2D medical images alone. 

Armed with this new insight that he gleaned regarding the lung and tumor, the surgeon was able to finalise a plan much faster and with more confidence, reporting savings of over 40 minutes of pre-operative planning time, in addition to a further 40 minutes of saved time in the operating room.

The 3D model was also crucial in educating the patient on her condition and the proposed surgery to remove the tumor from her lung – and ultimately supported her decision to proceed with the surgeon’s plan to remove the tumor.