Scalp Cooling to Help Chemotherapy Patients

July 7, 2020
Scalp cooling helps reduce the risk of hair loss for patients getting chemotherapy.

In the midst of a pandemic, Middlesex Health Cancer Center unveiled new technology that helps patients receiving chemotherapy.

Patients receiving chemotherapy to treat cancer often lose their hair and must decide whether to go bald, or wear scarfs or wigs. Scalp cooling gives them another option because it helps lower scalp temperature, reducing the effect chemotherapy has on hair follicles.

Scalp cooling caps for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Middlesex’s equipment is from Paxman, a company that specializes in scalp cooling, and infusion nurses were trained to use it. A patient receives a cap that fits tight to the scalp. The cap is connected to a machine before, during and after chemotherapy treatments. The process shouldn’t be painful, but needs to take place at the time of each treatment.

Scalp cooling is not appropriate for all individuals. Appropriateness is primarily based on the type of chemotherapy regime a person receives, and while effective for most individuals, scalp cooling is not guaranteed to work for everyone. Individuals can still lose their hair. The goal is that by reducing the temperature of the scalp to between 64 degrees and 72 degrees—the optimal temperature for hair retention—hair loss will be significantly reduced.

Scalp cooling is currently only offered at the Cancer Center location in Middletown. If a patient receiving chemotherapy is interested in scalp cooling, they should contact the Cancer Center’s Wig Room or their nurse navigator.

Insurance does not cover the cost of scalp cooling. However, financial assistance is available for qualified patients thanks to a $5,000 donation from Infinite Strength, a Madison-based foundation. Financial assistance may also be available from a national organization called Hair to Stay.

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