Testing the SuPPORT 4 All radiotherapy bra using 3D surface imaging

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Testing the SuPPORT 4 All radiotherapy bra using 3D surface imaging

One in two people will develop cancer at some point in their lives and one in four will need radiotherapy as part of their treatment1.

Using technology at the Sheffield Multimodal Imaging Centre (SMIC), researchers were able to test and develop an innovative device to make the process more accurate and more dignified. 

Precision is key

Precision radiotherapy, where a targeted dose of radiation is delivered to a specific area of the body, is crucial to maximising the chances of controlling the spread of cancer. It also minimises damage to the surrounding normal tissue and can help reduce side effects after treatment.

One way to increase precision is with an immobilisation device. This helps to accurately position the patient and keep them in the same position for each treatment.

Here at SMIC, we developed a 3D surface imaging technique to test and validate the accuracy of immobilisation devices prior to use in a clinical healthcare setting.

The radiotherapy bra being tested using 3D surface imaging

The technique in action

The SuPPORT 4 All (S4A) bra is a new immobilisation device for breast cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy treatment.

It's designed to enhance the accuracy of breast positioning during radiotherapy, reduce the radiation dose to healthy organs, minimise radiation induced skin reactions, and preserve patient dignity and modesty.

Ahead of clinical testing, researchers used SMIC’s non-invasive 3D surface scanning technique to test the S4A bra on healthy volunteers.

This allowed them to confirm the accuracy and consistency of the bra and gave them confidence to move into testing it with real patients.

Leading to new developments

During the early stages of the project a series of co-design workshops were carried out with breast cancer patients and healthcare professionals involved in the planning and delivery of breast cancer radiotherapy.

In these workshops, we discovered some patients had experienced breast lymphoedema during and after radiotherapy. Patients found it difficult to communicate concerns about their changing breasts to the healthcare team. Clinicians were also concerned with how easily they would be able to detect radiation skin reactions in patients wearing the bra to their sessions.

To address these concerns, we developed two patient self reporting tools to allow patients to be more involved in their care and improve communication between patients and practitioners.

These tools were tested as part of the clinical feasibility trial for the support for all bra. Results showed that patients found the booklets useful, and easy to complete throughout their treatment.

We are now planning further developments to these tools to support patients using them during the radiotherapy phase of their breast cancer treatment.

Someone looking at a 3D surface scan of the radiotherapy bra

A smarter approach to testing

This non-invasive method of testing immobilisation devices can be carried out away from clinical settings, avoiding the need to use scarce NHS resources. It can also provide a level of confidence in the immobilisation method prior to clinical testing. 

Rapid scan acquisition times of less than one minute also mean testing can be undertaken without the need for lengthy procedures.

Get in touch

Contact SMIC to discuss facilities and partnerships.

Email SMIC