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Tulane Doctors - Comprehensive Cancer Center ~ Radiation Oncology ~ Clinical Research Studies

Pilot Study Utilizing 3D Printing in Patients Undergoing External Beam Radiation Therapy

We are currently studying the use of a 3D printed bolus in patients receiving external beam radiation therapy. A bolus is a flat piece of rubber-like material placed on top of your skin, which increases the radiation dose to your skin and to the tissues right below it.

This study focuses on bolus preparation by creating a customized bolus with 3D printing and comparing it to a conventionally prepared bolus.

The bolus that works best for you will be used in your actual treatment.

To be eligible patients must be:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Receiving radiotherapy treatment with bolus at Tulane Cancer Center
  • Able to sign and consent to study treatment
  • NOT be pregnant

Your participation in the study will require receiving two additional CT scans than would not be required if you were not on this study.

The amount of radiation exposure involved in this study will not be significantly greater than the exposure if you did not take part in the study.

There are no additional costs for participating in the study.

To learn more about this study, contact
Aniko Vigh
Director, Office of Clinical Research

Understanding Clinical Research Studies

What Are Clinical Research Studies?
Clinical research studies involve people for testing ways to treat and prevent cancer. All of today’s standard cancer treatments are a result of clinical research studies completed many years ago.

Facts About Clinical Research Studies

  • More than 25,000 cancer patients enroll each year in clinical research studies through the National Cancer Institute. Many more patients are enrolled in clinical research studies sponsored by other groups.
  • About 60 percent of the adults enrolled in clinical research studies are women.
  • Lung, breast, prostate and colon cancers have the highest number of clinical research studies dedicated to them — more than 40 percent of the total number of studies.
  • Only a small percentage of all cancer patients enroll in clinical research studies. Their participation may benefit them as well as future cancer patients

What Are the Benefits?
Although there are risks with any treatment, there are also many benefits of taking part in a clinical research study. For example:

  • Access to promising new treatments that are not available outside of the clinical research study setting.
  • The treatment being studied may be better than the standard approach.
  • You are followed very closely by a research team that is made up of doctors and other health professionals.
  • You may be the first to benefit from the new method. Results from the study may help others in the future.

What Are the Risks?
Before taking part in a clinical study, talk to your doctor about some of the risks involved with your treatment. For example:

New drugs or treatments may not be any better than the standard care they are being compared to.

New treatments may have side effects that are not expected.

If you are in a randomized study, you will not be able to choose if you are getting the new treatment or the standard approach.

Health insurance may not cover all your costs.

You may be required to make more frequent visits to the doctor.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor
Before joining a clinical study, you may want to ask your doctor questions about the study and your treatment.

  • What are you trying to learn from the study?
  • What do doctors know already about the treatments being studied?
  • What treatments and tests will I get during this study?
  • Who will be in charge of my care during the study?
  • What are the differences between what I would get on this treatment and the standard treatment you would recommend?
  • What are the benefits and risks?
  • How will this affect my daily life?
  • How long will the study last?
  • What will I be asked to pay?
  • How will I know if the study was successful?

How Can I Join a Clinical Research Study?
If you are interested in joining a clinical study, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you find out if a study is right for you.

The National Cancer Institute can give you information on current research studies. Call 1-800-4-CANCER or visit www.cancer.gov to learn more.

Who Pays for a Clinical Research Study?
Before taking part in a clinical study, it's important to ask what your costs will be.

  • In some cases, the sponsor of the study (such as the government, drug makers or technology companies) will provide the new treatment at no cost and pay for any special testing or extra doctor visits. Some sponsors may pay more than this, such as covering travel time and mileage expenses. However, other studies may pay very little of your treatment costs.
  • If you have private insurance, check with your provider before you begin treatment. It may be willing to pay for some or all of the costs of your treatment, depending on the type of study.
  • Medicare will pay for the routine costs for some government sponsored clinical studies. Ask your doctor or call your local Medicare provider to find out what Medicare will pay for your treatment.