When dealing with cancer, it’s not enough to address the medical side, but also the emotional and psychological aspects of the treatment as a whole. Chemotherapy, in particular, can be an issue as it has a series of associated side effects, including nausea, fatigue and hair loss, which can affect a patient’s mental health and indirectly their recovery process.
In their desire to improve every step of the way, scientists have come up with a novel method of managing alopecia (hair loss) – a cooling cap that circulates cold liquid over the scalp, constricting blood vessels and reducing the amount of cytotoxic agent absorbed by the hair follicles. Furthermore, the cold temperature reduces their activity and slows down cell division, making the strands less affected by chemotherapy.
In 2015, the FDA approved the use of such devices following several clinical trials conducted on women undergoing therapy for breast cancer. Their data showed that “more than 66 percent of patients (…) reported losing less than half their hair”. Further peer-reviewed articles backed these claims and the agency deemed the use of the cap as safe and efficient.
Almost one year ago, Brenda was diagnosed with breast cancer. She felt afraid and worried about how people would respond to seeing the changes in her body due to the treatment. “Like having an ice cream headache without having the ice cream” is how she described the experience. With the support of her family, Brenda is now cancer free and living a happy and healthy life.
The device presents only slight side effects, like cold-induced headaches and neck and shoulder discomfort, but does not interfere with the treatment.
While the search for a cancer cure is still ongoing, medical professionals try to make patients have the best possible care throughout their recovery journey.