Published on December 12, 2019
Hair loss is a side effect of chemotherapy that makes an already stressful and emotional situation even more difficult. Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia (CIA) is consistently ranked as one of the most feared side effects of chemotherapy treatment.
For patients with solid tumors, such as breast, ovarian, colorectal, bowel and prostate cancers, a new treatment available at Phelps Health Delbert Day Cancer Institute (DDCI) may help reduce hair loss resulting from chemotherapy treatment.
The treatment is called the Paxman Scalp Cooling System, and it is a simple procedure that is scientifically proven to reduce or prevent hair loss during chemotherapy.
“Patients wear a special cap during chemotherapy that chills the scalp. The cold temperature slows blood flow to the hair follicles, which limits the amount of chemotherapy that can reach the hair follicles,” says DDCI Assistant Director Rhonda Teague, MSN, RN.
Paxman Scalp Cooling is a safe option for patients who want to minimize hair loss, and the system has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Side effects are generally minimal,” says Teague. “The most common side effects reported are headache or an intense cold sensation at the beginning of treatment. The cold sensation should minimize after the first 10-15 minutes of treatment.”
While patients should be prepared to see some hair loss, even with scalp cooling, the rate of hair loss varies from patient to patient and is influenced by the chemotherapy treatment. For optimal results, patients are encouraged to continue scalp cooling during each session of chemotherapy.
Successful scalp cooling can be measured by patients not feeling that they need to wear a wig or head covering. “Research has proven that scalp cooling has allowed thousands of patients to retain their hair while receiving chemotherapy,” Teague says. “Helping patients feel more confident and secure during their treatment is a priority at the DDCI.” Teague says other benefits to scalp cooling include helping safeguard patient privacy and helping patients maintain a positive outlook during treatment.
Some insurances may cover or reimburse the cost of the Paxman Scalp Cooling System, but patients should check with their individual insurance carriers to be certain.