New hair-loss treatment for chemo patients at hospital

Lizzy Cronin, left, founder and owner of, gives the Chemotherapy Unit staff a demonstration on how to properly apply a cold cap, with the assistance of Tori Croft.

The Cayman Islands Hospital has introduced a new therapy treatment that reduces hair loss among cancer patients who receive chemotherapy there.

The Breast Cancer Foundation donated 50 hypothermia caps to the hospital’s chemotherapy unit for the purpose of reducing hair loss trauma among chemotherapy patients through “cold cap therapy.”

“It’s nice to be able to offer patients the cold cap treatment,” chemotherapy nurse Andrew Ward said in a press release issued by the Health Services Authority on Wednesday. “I am all for anything that will make our patients feel better about themselves.”

According to the Health Services Authority, the therapy, using the hypothermia caps, involves cooling the scalp of patients for a period of time before, during and after each chemotherapy treatment. The cooling treatment constricts blood vessels in the scalp, and that is believed to decrease the amount of chemotherapy medication reaching the cells of hair follicles. With chemotherapy drugs targeting rapidly dividing cells, the cooling is also believed to decrease activity of the hair follicles, reducing the effect on follicle cells and as a result, reducing hair loss. In addition to donating 50 hyperthermia caps, the Breast Cancer Foundation has also donated to the unit a biometric freezer for cap storage.

“Being diagnosed with cancer, any kind of cancer is one of the most frightening times in a person’s life,” said Janette Fitzgerald of the Breast Cancer Foundation. “After the initial shock and confusion, most people begin the research phase. Choosing surgeons, oncologists and treatment choices is an extremely difficult process.”

“For most,” she said, “the added trauma of losing their hair during chemotherapy is an added burden they are forced to bear on the journey to becoming cancer-free. The BCF identified that there was a way that we could help to ease that trauma by helping patients keep their hair.”

She said cold caps have been used successfully in the United Kingdom for many years. “We wanted to give patients in Cayman the option to try to retain their hair. It is not an easy option, but this method has a very high success rate,” she said.

The purchase of equipment was funded by the foundation, with AndroGroup Ltd. handling shipping and delivery for free.

The foundation also brought to the island Lizzy Cronin, a trainer from the U.S. and owner of Texas-based

“For both male and female cancer patients, the experience of losing their hair as a result of chemotherapy can be quite emotionally traumatic. Therefore, the HSA welcomes and greatly appreciates these donations made by the Breast Cancer Foundation in their effort to reduce the chances of this occurring,” said Lizzette Yearwood of the HSA. “We look forward to our patients utilizing this added therapy and experiencing the benefits it offers.”

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