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Support4All

Radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer requires precision and accuracy. This research builds understanding and has developed a novel solution for safer breast radiotherapy through the creation of a support bra, enabling reproducible positioning of tissue during breast irradiation treatment and helping maintain modesty and promote dignity.

Funded by National Institute of Health Research.

Partners:
Sheffield Hallam University: Faculty of Health & Wellbeing
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Panache Lingerie Ltd

Project Team:
Design Lead – Heath Reed
Prof Heidi Probst, Andy Stanton

Breast cancer symptoms affects a substantial proportion of the population and state-of-the-art radiotherapy approaches require increasing precision and accuracy to avoid long-term side effects.

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There is evidence that immobilising the breast during radiotherapy following a diagnosis of breast cancer is problematic. Patients with larger breasts are particularly difficult to position. This decreases the accuracy of treatment and the process can increase levels of emotional distress and compromise dignity.

This bra has been designed specifically so that it doesn’t absorb too much of the radiation beam and therefore doesn’t increase the skin dose.

(Dr. Heidi Probst)

This research seeks to develop a novel solution for safer breast radiotherapy through the creation of a support bra. This will enable reproducible positioning of tissue during breast irradiation treatment, help maintain modesty and promote dignity.

A mixed methods approach has been adopted to build understanding of patient and staff requirements and develop insights into the materials that could potentially be used.

Very few centres will cover the patient during radiotherapy so this is unique – it allows the patient to be covered during the treatment.

(Dr. Heidi Probst)

The inquiry is ongoing. To date a number of prototypes have been created and are currently being tested. The research raises further avenues of investigation in relation to methodological approaches and ways of testing designs.

I’ve been clear 9 years now. Being able to wear a bra while you’re having radiotherapy treatment would be very helpful for women as they go through the treatment, make them feel much for comfortable at a time when you feel very vulnerable.

(Rachel, test volunteer)

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