Breast Cancer Patients Can Retain Hair With This Novel Technology
The use of scalp-cooling caps, a novel technology, may help in preventing chemotherapy-induced hair loss for some cancer patients.
Nearly 50 percent of all breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy consider loss of hair as the most traumatic experience of the treatment. To prevent succumbing to such trauma, 8 percent of the patients refuse chemotherapy just to retain their hair and identity.
"Hair loss takes a tremendous toll on the patient's body image and they no longer have the anonymity of hiding the disease; everyone can see that they're sick," said Dr. Julie Nangia, assistant professor and breast cancer expert at Baylor College of Medicine.
Several drugs used in chemotherapy make the hair follicles weak and thus result in hair loss. It in turn also damages hair growth cells and prevents new hair from growing.
The scalp cooling caps tends to limit the damage as it works like refrigerators. A special fluid is passed on to the cap, which cools the patient's scalp before, during and after the chemotherapy.
Scalp cooling caps are not so popular in the U.S. only because the device has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, DigniCap, a kind of a cooling cap has recently received FDA clearance and can be used in U.S. during chemotherapy.
The scalp cooling device is relatively new in the US and is now being established in other parts of the world. As of now, the cap's cost may not be reimbursed by health insurance and would nearly cost between $1,500 to $3,000 per patient.
Survey Supports Technology
A couple of new studies suggested that women undergoing therapy for breast cancer are not likely to lose most of their hair with the help of the new technology. They tested the effectiveness of two different cooling caps.
One of the researches was conducted by Nangia and her team and the other study was done by Dr. Hope Rugo and team. The concluding two studies were published in the journal of American Medical Association.
In both the studies it was found that almost 50 percent of the patients retained at least half of their hair compared to those who weren't using cooling caps. Rugo studied the effect of cooling caps on 122 women and Nangia tested the other cooling cap in 142 women, all of whom were on stage one or two of breast cancer.
Nearly 66 percent of Rugo's paitents and 51 percent of Nangia's patients estimated that they have kept almost half of their hair due to the cooling caps.
"In our study, half of women who used the scalp cooling device kept their hair, and in the control group there was zero percent hair retention. Everyone who didn't have the device lost their hair," said Nangia.
Price And Availability
Nangia said that the biggest issue patients may face to avail the services of the cap would be the cost. As of now, the cooling caps are not covered under insurance and would cost the patients around $1,000 to $2,000 per sitting.
To know more about this cap, watch the video below and let us know what you think in the comments section.
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