For most people, hair loss is what we expect during chemotherapy. But the new patented product DigniCap changes that. The new method of cooling the scalp during and after chemotherapy has a proven effect on hair growth.
Losing Hair During Chemotherapy
Most people lose some or all of their hair when going through chemotherapy. It can be a traumatizing experience, as much of our identity is in our hair. And about one in eight American women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women. Researchers estimate that some 252,710 women will diagnosed with this disease in 2017.
“We have this huge growing population of breast cancer survivors, and many of them are very traumatized by their treatment,” said Dr. Hope S. Rugo. Rugo is the director of breast oncology and clinical trials education at University of California, San Francisco. The school is working on developing different ways of tackling this problem, one of them being scalp-cooling.
Studies Using the DigniCap
The method of cooling the scalp in order to keep hair growth alive is old. However, with new technique available today it works better and is easier. Swedish company Dignitana produces the device that is called the DigniCap. This device was used in a cold cap study from the University of California, San Francisco.
The study involved 122 women with early stage breast cancer. Among the women who received treatment with the cold cap, 66.3 percent kept 50 percent of their hair. In the control group, that did not wear a cool cap, the number was zero. For the scalp-cooling group, three out of five quality-of-life measures were also “significantly better” a month after ending treatment.
How the Device Works
The DigniCap is the only scalp-cooling device that has currently been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration. “Managing the side effects of chemotherapy is a critical component to overall health and recovery,” said William Maisel from the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. Our hair is a big part of our identity and losing it can cause emotional trauma. The DigniCap is a safe way of preventing or easing hair loss. As it does not involve any medication or surgery, it is safe from side effects.
The cap consists of an inner and an outer cap, and works much like a refrigerator, and are filled with a cooling liquid. Temperature sensors built into the cap regulates how often the liquid circulates. When our head gets cooled off, blood vessels in the scalp constrict. When blood flow to the hair follicles slow down, the metabolism of the follicles also slows down.
This is a breakthrough for cancer treatment, as some women will even refuse to undergo chemotherapy treatment in order to save their hair. Dr. Julie Nangia, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said that they “are at a higher risk for relapse and if the cancer comes back, we can’t cure it.” Now, with the option of the DigniCap, it could encourage these women to accept a treatment that could save their life.