Cold Caps May Reduce Hair Loss During Chemo

cold cap image credit: Good Search

You’ve either heard, seen or experienced it: Chemo-related hair loss. For many women, it’s the toughest part of cancer. It’s an announcement of your health status. People will freely ask you, “What kind of cancer do you have?” Now there’s a buzz about a new treatment in the U.S. that may help keep your private details of cancer hair loss from the public eye.

It’s been dubbed “the cold cap” and has been used in Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada for years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved any of the caps used in other countries. Now U.S. researchers are experimenting with this hair-preserving treatment for those undergoing chemo. This summer, researchers in the U.S. will begin enrolling 110 early-stage breast cancer patients to participate in a study of the brand DigniCap.

The cap is so cold that it numbs the scalp during chemotherapy. Near-freezing temperatures of the cap are said to reduce the blood flow in the scalp. With such low temperatures, the hair follicles are more difficult to harm by the drugs used in chemo, a drug that effects all fast growing cells—both healthy and cancerous ones.

I wonder if the cap, being so cold, creates any headaches for the patient. Ever eat ice cream too fast? During chemo, I was frequently very cold. With a cold cap, will it be standard for the patient to get warm blankets, too? I’ve read that patients keep much of their hair. Does that mean it gets real thin, but doesn’t all fall out? So many things to wait and learn.

Have you or anyone you know used a cold cap? What are your thoughts about them?

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4 thoughts on “Cold Caps May Reduce Hair Loss During Chemo

  1. I had my treatment in England, and was offered the cold cap. But it’s sooooo cold. 🙂 I think it’s a considerable challenge for people, particularly as the chemo goes on. However, talking to the nurses they said that it did seem to work often enough. But what they don’t tell you is you need to arrive an hour or so early, and stay an hour or so extra after treatment with that cap on your head – adding quite a bit of time. Just hearing that was enough for me, and I went without. Though it is very hard to lose hair, very hard indeed. ~Catherine

  2. I’m starting chemo next month and someone told me about the cold caps yesterday. Since they’re not approved in the US, I’m thinking of taking one of those flat frozen ice packs and putting it over my head with a hat to cover it. It’s so vain, but I CAN’T lose my hair. I’m having panic attacks just thinking about it…

    • Hi, I’m sorry you’re having the journey of cancer, but I’m glad you’re moving on to your perfect health – real soon!

      Scroll down and read the comment from Catherine for input re: cold caps. The panic over hair loss is huge for many patients with cancer. I was more afraid of losing my hair than I was of chemo. I’ve met others who say the same.

      Take care.

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