New technology to help protect hair from effects of chemotherapy


Hair loss is one of the most dreaded side effects of chemotherapy.

But at Norton Cancer Institute, they have the Dignicap. It is a new system that could help prevent hair loss.

«It was one of the worst moments, the day I lost my hair,» Barbara Tafel said.

Tafel was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. After the cancer spread to her lymph nodes, she had a double mastectomy and then underwent chemotherapy and radiation.

«When you begin chemo, you don’t feel very pretty. You are pretty much stripped of your womanhood and then to lose your hair, it was devastating to me,» Tafel said.

Now, a new cooling system called Dignicap may be able to change that, and reduce the amount of hair loss during chemo.

«The patients who have had success with scalp cooling are just absolutely delighted. It makes their lives so much better,» Norton Cancer Institute Dr. Jeffrey Hargas said.

The Dignicap uses near-freezing temperatures to make it hard for cancer-fighting drugs to reach and harm hair follicles.

«Cooling the scalp uses a silicon, custom-fit cap infused with a coolant that keeps the temperature down to about 32 degrees. About 70 percent of patients who use the system during chemo are able to keep more than half of the amount of their hair.

«Now they can have this opportunity. To know that the chemo is working but to not suffer that consequence is huge,» Tafel said.

Currently, health insurance doesn’t cover the treatment but through the Norton foundation, they have gotten the cost down to about $100 per patient, per treatment.


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