Have you ever heard of cold caps, cooling caps, or scalp cooling? Well, if you haven't, it's time to be introduced! They are quickly becoming the new standard of care for breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. In fact, their use is quickly expanding to include almost all solid tumors. They were just becoming popular while I was undergoing chemotherapy in 2016. Had I been introduced to them earlier in my treatment, I definitely would have been interested! Now, after three wigs and a bunch of beanies followed by an awkward grow out period and extensions, my hair has grown to an even length!
According to a summary of Scalp Cooling by Charlotte Bath in the ASCO Post, Dec. 25, 2018, Vol 9, Iss. 24, evidence gathered over 40-50 years has demonstrated its efficacy. In general, scalp cooling prevents significant hair loss in about 50% of patients with breast cancer. Those patients receiving anthracyclines had less response with only 22% experiencing significantly less hair loss. But, as Mike Ross, MSN, RN from Memorial Sloan Kettering stated, "Success rates with anthracycline therapy are lower but certainly better than if you do nothing, which yields a 100% failure rate." In addition, multiple studies including a meta-analysis of over 3200 patients have shown no significant increase in scalp metastases in patients who have used cooling caps. Overall survival was also not affected. Two FDA approved devices are Dignitana and Paxman. Costs average from $1500 to $3000. Don't let this stop you from pursuing help. Although insurance companies have been slow to catch on, there are some organizations that may help to fund your cold cap: HairToStay hairtostay.org, Cold Capital Fund coldcapitalfund.org, and Hope for Hair Foundation hopeforhair.org.