Chemotherapy Unit upgrades cancer hair loss treatment

From left, chemotherapy nurses Rosanna Humphreys-Johnson, Andrew Ward and Maria Estevan, Paxman Cooling System training specialist Freddy Rozentzvaig, BCF members Lydia Forbes and Deirdre Byrne, with chemotheraphy nurse manager Karen Pinnock, kneeling.

The Health Services Authority Chemotherapy Unit has upgraded its cold cap therapy with a scalp cooling system that will improve efficiency of the treatment and provide a more comfortable experience for patients hoping to prevent or reduce the loss of their hair as a result of chemotherapy.

Donated by the Breast Cancer Foundation, the scalp cooling system uses scalp hypothermia, a process that can prevent hair loss caused by certain chemotherapy drugs, by cooling a person’s scalp for a period of time before, during, and after each chemotherapy treatment.

The current cold caps used are similar to ice packs as they thaw out during a chemotherapy infusion session and need to be replaced with a new cap about every 25 minutes. With scalp cooling systems, the cap is attached to a small refrigeration machine that circulates coolant, so the cap only has to be fitted once and does not need to be changed during chemotherapy treatment.

“The new scalp cooling system provides a better experience for the chemotherapy patients as the old cold cap therapy can be a more uncomfortable experience by having a cap removed and replaced every 25 minutes,” said Karen Stewart, chemotherapy nurse manager, in a press release. “The scalp cooling system now reduces the level of discomfort, thus improving the overall patient experience.”

She added, “The system also improves efficiency for our nursing staff who can now allocate the time it would take to refit a patient’s cold cap to providing additional care to more patients.”

According to the release, the Paxman Scalp Cooling System has proven to be an effective way of combatting chemotherapy-induced hair loss and can result in a high level of retention or complete preservation of hair.

For patients, this means the opportunity to regain some control, maintain their privacy and encourage a positive attitude towards treatment.

Kim Lund, Breast Cancer Foundation board member, said, “Breast cancer patients have enough trauma in their lives without also having to lose their hair, so hopefully this new system will alleviate a burdensome side effect of the chemotherapy.”

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