Losing your hair. As if cancer isn’t enough to deal with, this can be one of the scariest parts of facing chemotherapy. While not all chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss, many do. CHI St. Alexius Health now offers a way for cancer patients to help retain their hair.
A treatment technique called scalp cooling involves, quite simply, wearing a cooling cap while receiving chemotherapy. Cooling the scalp to between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit has two effects on the scalp, and thus, the hair.
First, cooling the scalp reduces blood flow to the area by around 40%, so less blood containing chemotherapy reaches hair follicles. Second, cooling causes hair follicle cells to go dormant. Dormant cells do not rapidly divide, interfering with how chemotherapy interacts with hair follicles.
Results vary depending on the type of chemotherapy a person receives, but overall 50% or more of a person’s hair may be retained. The treatment technique also improves hair regrowth by protecting the follicle, which helps hair regrow quickly after treatment.
Wearing the cap can feel like an “ice cream headache” for the first 15 minutes, but most patients acclimate in the same way you get used to the temperature of a cold pool. Less than 3% of people discontinue the treatments due to discomfort.
The new scalp cooling cap is now available at CHI St. Alexius Health. “We are proud to offer this safe and effective option to our cancer patients,” said Marti Volz, Director of Ancillary Services. “It’s just one example of how personal the process of treating cancer is for patients and our team. We truly treat the whole person – body, mind and spirit.”
“We are also proud to announce that our Foundation has approved $10,000 to support partial payment of treatments,” said Dubi Cummings, Director of Marketing and Foundation. “This will help us support the first 4 treatments for up to 10 patients.” As this state of the art treatment is not covered by insurance companies at this time, the Foundation is proud to help offset some of these costs to our patients.