Breast cancer treatment can be uncomfortable, but a newly approved product may allow some patients to avoid one unpleasant side effect to chemo treatment. A new cooling cap may help some patients save their hair.
“I feel like having long hair has always been a big part of who I am,” said Heather Chemtov.
She’s half way through her chemotherapy for breast cancer and she still has her long, flowing hair. She wears the new DigniCap during chemotherapy.
She says, “I can rest. I can have a conversation. I can watch a movie, whatever I want to do to help pass the time.”
Chemo patients lose their hair because blood flow delivers the toxins throughout the body, including to the hair follicles.
Elisa Krill-Jackson, M.D., a medical oncologist at Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami, Florida explained, “If we put a frozen cap on somebody’s head, it slows the blood flow down significantly.”
That means the hair follicles get less chemo. During the procedure, a machine circulates 32 degree gel into the cap. FDA trials show the new cap works. Seventy percent of early stage breast cancer patients kept at least 50% of their hair, like Heather, who’s grateful to recognize herself when she looks in the mirror.
“It makes this whole process so much easier and more comfortable at a time when really nothing is easy or comfortable,” Heather says.
An older gel-filled cap used to be an option for some patients, but that cap had to be replaced when it thawed. For Heather, the old cap had to be replaced up to 18 times a session. The new cap was FDA approved December 2015.