Using 3D imaging to personalise care for breast cancer patients

The first phase of the MIBREAST study at The Royal Marsden uses iPads to show breast cancer patients how they might look after surgery.

The trial, which has launched thanks to funding from The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, enables patients to see a simulation of their appearance after a mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Pre-operative images captured using a 3D-surface imaging system are modified to create a bespoke image for the patient, with the aim of helping them better understand what they will look like after breast reconstruction and improving patient confidence. 

Study lead Jennifer Rusby, Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, said: “It can be hard for patients to imagine their post-operative appearance and to make an informed decision between reconstructive options."

A surgeon at The Royal Marsden wearing a jacket and shirt, sitting on a green chair in a modern waiting room environment with cut flowers and a painting on the wall behind them
Jennifer Rusby, Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon at The Royal Marsden

“Verbal description, drawings and 2D photos of women who have undergone similar surgery are currently used, but variation in body shape, breast shape and skin tone mean that these methods poorly represent a woman’s unique outcome."

“Previously, we have used a system that involves six cameras taking photos simultaneously and integrating them to make a 3D image – but this system is large and immobile. We are trialling a cloud-based system where images are captured on iPads using an infrared sensor attachment, making the process more mobile and accessible. 

“This new system also measures the shape of the breast, which we hope will help with surgical planning and reduce the need for more surgery down the line to help improve breast symmetry.” 

Jackie’s story

A headshot of a woman with curled blonde hair wearing a a cream top and black blazer
Royal Marsden patient, Jackie Cooper

Jackie Cooper was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 when she was 54 years old. She was referred to The Royal Marsden where she was put under the care of Jennifer Rusby, who performed her mastectomy and subsequent breast reconstructive surgeries.

Jackie is now doing well and has regular monitoring scans at The Royal Marsden: “I’m so in awe of The Royal Marsden, it has a different feel to any other hospital."

"You know that you’re getting not just the best treatment, but the most innovative treatment too. The clinical teams are always looking for the next best thing to do.” 

Jackie went on to complete the 300-mile London to Paris cycle challenge in 2022 to fundraise for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, specifically to support the MIBREAST study. 

Two people wearing helmets, cycling sun glasses and Royal Marsden Cancer Charity cycling gear

“The most important thing is to get rid of the cancer, that’s the priority – but it is also important that patients don’t feel abandoned when it comes to the rest of a breast cancer journey. This technology will hopefully make a huge difference to patients like me. When you have cancer, the world is taken out of your control, with tests, treatments and procedures. This study will help bring an element of control back.” 

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The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity is the largest charitable funder of research at The Royal Marsden. Thanks to our supporters, we can fund pioneering clinical trials, which help improve treatment and care for patients, not just at The Royal Marsden but across the UK and around the world.

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