Hair loss is an unfortunate, yet short-term and usually (although, not always) reversible consequence of cancer chemotherapy. It can be psychologically devastating to patients. Fortunately, there is a technology called scalp cooling that can help minimize and prevent alopecia caused by certain chemotherapeutic drugs in men and women with specified cancers. The technology is available at select Northside Hospital Cancer Institute locations.
“The goal of scalp cooling is to minimize hair loss to less than 50 percent and eliminate the need for a wig or hairpiece,” says Dr. Cheryl Jones, a Georgia Cancer Specialists medical oncologist. “The technology achieves this by reducing blood flow to hair follicles, causing vasoconstriction, and thus limiting toxic chemotherapy exposure.”
“Hair loss is a really big deal for women and men,” said Emily Beard, women’s oncology program coordinator at Northside and a former chemotherapy nurse. “Patients say that keeping their hair helps them feel like they are keeping their life as normal as possible.”
Scalp cooling is most effective when administered before, during and after chemotherapy. Northside Hospital Cancer Institute has been utilizing the FDA-approved Paxman scalp cooling system for several months with much success.
Overall, patients have been extremely pleased with their outcomes and avoiding the need to wear a wig during therapy. Many patients also have expressed a positive post-treatment experience because they don’t have to wait months for their hair to grow back.
Currently, scalp cooling is available at Atlanta Cancer Care (ACC) at Perimeter/Tower and Georgia Cancer Specialists (GCS) in Macon. Additional locations are receiving machines now with rollouts to begin in March:
GCS Center Pointe
GCS Emory Midtown
For more information about scalp cooling, call the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute at 404-531-4444.