Computerized cooling cap helps women keep hair during chemotherapy

Computerized cooling cap helps women keep hair during chemotherapy

Cancer patients suffer plenty of pain and indignities.

A new product recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is designed to help reduce hair loss in people undergoing chemotherapy. Here’s how it works: A computer controls the movement of very cold liquid through a cap that patients wear at different times during the course of their chemotherapy. The liquid that circulates through the cap causes blood vessels in the scalp to constrict.

The idea is that the constricted blood vessels in the scalp will cause hair follicles to absorb less of the hair loss-inducing medication. The FDA reports that the cooling effect also should help make the hair follicles less active, and therefore less susceptible to the effects of chemotherapy.

The computerized model is easier to use than older versions of the cold cap because it does not require patients to use dry ice or to track of how long they’ve been wearing the cap.

Trials of the computerized cap showed that patients who wear it are likely to keep more of their hair during treatment than those who go without it, according to the FDA. Nearly 70 percent of women who used the device still had more than half their hair three to six weeks after treatment.

For a patient who just wants to feel like herself again, that’s a promising result.

Use of the cap was been studied in women with stage I or stage II breast cancer. Its makers are now marketing it specifically for women suffering from breast cancer. The cap doesn’t work with all chemotherapy drugs but a physician can provide advice about when it could be effective.

With automated cooling caps, hair loss during chemotherapy could someday become a thing of the past.

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