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Cancer Channel
Reported December 2, 2011

Cancer Patients Keep their Hair!

Winston-Salem, NC (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Hair loss, it’s one of the most obvious signs of cancer treatment. Many of the drugs used in chemotherapy for diseases like breast cancer cause all or the most of the patient’s hair to fall out, but as one woman found out, a cool new therapy currently being studied is changing that.

When Cheryl cook got breast cancer her doctor recommended chemotherapy, and told her what to expect.

“Because of the drug that I’d been taking’, I would lose my hair before the second treatment,” Cheryl Cook, told Ivanhoe.

So, she started researching ways to stop that.

“Just simply typed in the search box ‘How do you keep your hair during chemo’,” Cheryl said.

Cheryl discovered a clinical trial testing an investigational system designed to prevent chemo-induced hair loss.

“I am literally hooked up to machine that acts like an air conditioner and it reduces the scalp to 42 degrees,” Cheryl said.

A coolant circulates through a silicone cap, causing blood flow to hair follicles to constrict. There are some concerns doing that could create a place for cancer cells to hide during chemo treatments, but studies in Europe and Asia, where the cap is widely available, show it’s safe and effective.

“It cools the scalp down and by doing that, prevents the chemotherapy from actually getting into the hair follicles and causing hair loss,” Susan Melin, M.D., an associate professor of the division of hematology and oncology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, explained.

Cheryl wore the cap during every one of her chemo treatments. Color, perms, and blow drying were off limits.

“It was very easy for me to manage and I was glad to,” Cheryl said.

For the 20 study participants with stage one breast cancer, the treatment paid off.  Most patients kept enough hair that they didn’t need a wig or head covering.

“I had pretty much decided you know, I’m going to lose my hair when I got the news, but the fact that I didn’t, you just feel better,” Cheryl said.

Knocking out cancer and keeping her hair for Cheryl, it just doesn’t get any cooler. 

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco are the only two centers in the U.S. involved in the particular cold cap study. The next step is a larger study with at least one-hundred patients. The cold cap is available to cancer patients in Europe and Asia. Right now, it’s only approved for investigational use in the U.S.MORE

More Information

Click here for additional research on Cancer Patients keep their Hair

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview Dr. Susan Melin 

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marsha Hitchcock at mhitchcock@ivanhoe.com

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