The future of breast cancer care
The clinical feasibility trial has now been completed, which evidenced that the bra can be safely used in the current radiotherapy pathway,. This early data also showed it may be possible to reduce the radiation dose delivered to the lung while maintaining good radiation dose coverage of the breast. Patient-reported outcomes also confirmed the bra provided participants with much needed dignity and modesty during treatment. Following the trial, further research and development is now underway to bring the product to market. Eventually, we hope the bra will be manufactured and adopted as standard throughout the NHS, and benefit millions of women across the UK.
Working with Leo Cancer Care, we have already begun further testing of the bra with a specialist treatment chair to analyse if the bra can support upright radiotherapy. Incorporating the bra into this type of treatment could help to reduce the radiation dose received by organs that lie close to the breast as well as helping to improve patient experience, and allowing therapeutic radiographers to create reproducible body positions to increase treatment accuracy.
These projects could only have come about by bringing researchers together with clinicians and businesses to work on projects collaboratively.
Sheffield Hallam University is uniquely placed to do this, thanks to our world-leading expertise in design, healthcare and materials engineering, combined with strong links with the NHS and the healthcare technology industry.
'Best Breakthroughs' recognition
In 2018, the SuPPORT 4 All project featured on the UK's Best Breakthroughs list, part of Universities UK's MadeAtUni campaign. Lead researcher Professor Heidi Probst subsequently featured in the campaign's Lifesavers list.
The campaign highlights how UK universities are at the forefront of some of the world’s most important discoveries, innovations and social initiatives.
Recognition from the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine
In 2023, Professor Heidi Probst, lead researcher on this project was made an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM). This award recognised her commitment to improving the lives and care of breast cancer patients through her work on the SuPPORT 4 All and RESPIRE projects.
About the team
This research is a collaboration between health researchers and Lab4Living art and design researchers at Sheffield Hallam, with input from researchers from Weston Park Hospital - part of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – and lingerie company Panache.
We have held focus groups with patients, interviewed oncologists and sought views from radiographers as part of the design process.
This project is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Invention for Innovation Programme (project reference II-LA-0214-20001). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.