Doctor uses virtual reality to show cancer patients their tumors


AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A doctor at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital is now using virtual reality to help cancer patients see their tumors in 3D form.

Dr. Douglas Holt partnered with Colorado State University for a pilot project and clinical trial.  

Thomas Delong is one of the patients who participated. The Denver man was diagnosed with a cancer at the base of his tongue and needed chemotherapy and radiation.

Wearing virtual reality headsets, Dr. Holt showed Delong where his tumor was in the body, what it looked like, and what the treatment would do. He’s done the same for many other patients.

“This is really meaningful for them. This is something that they can grasp what’s happening to themselves,” Dr. Holt said.

As Delong moved his head with the VR headset on, he could get a closer look inside the body.

“We stuck our heads in there and we could zoom into my bones, and my heart, and my brain,” he said.

Thankfully, the latest images show there is no longer any evidence of cancer, but Delong says this experience helped him understand what was happening in his body.

Both he and Dr. Holt believe this is a far better experience than looking at 2D images.

“It’s like comparing a child image, with the Mona Lisa,” Delong said.

Dr. Holt is already receiving great recognition. He received the Innovator of the Year award from the Association of Community Cancer Centers.

He plans to forge ahead, hoping to improve the patient experience.

“The goal is to continue to work on this to scale, to make this a standard of care for patients,” he said.

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