Breast cancer patients are rejoicing this week at news the FDA has approved a cold cap device that will greatly reduce women’s hair loss when undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
So far the DigniCap has only been approved for use in breast cancer patients, based on the results of a clinical trial of 122 women undergoing standard chemo regimens for early-stage breast cancer. According to CBS news, more than two-thirds of the women treated retained more than half their hair.
Cost for the DigniCap is still being finalized but estimates put it at about $400 to $500 per chemo session, meaning the total cost could range from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on how many rounds of treatment a woman undergoes. Dignitana AB, the Swedish maker of the cooling cap, is reportedly negotiating with insurance companies for coverage.
Chemotherapy is tough. I watched my mom undergo extensive treatment after she was diagnosed with colon cancer during my senior year of high school. There are so many side effects and some days, it can feel like your body has betrayed you. Thankfully, my mother did not suffer from one of the most common symptoms, which is alopecia. But the unfortunate reality is that there are millions of men and women who do. However, inventors of a new cap are promising to help cancer patients keep more of their hair.
According to Allure, the DigniCap was first introduced in Sweden, and it is currently in the final stages of FDA testing.
How it works:
Before beginning a round of chemotherapy, the patient should wet his or her hair and then pull the cap over their heads. Channels of coolant work to keep scalp temperatures low, which ultimately slows down hair follicle cell turnover and reduces the concentration of chemotherapy “being delivered to the scalp area.”
Writer Heather Millar described the process as anything but comfortable after she used it for four months of chemo earlier in 2015, but it seems that it did its job.
“It’s like sticking your head in Lake Tahoe until it goes numb,” said Millar.
The results were amazing. She kept almost all of her hair. During a clinical trial, 70% of patients kept at least half of their hair on their heads as well.
“It’s a big deal,” said Professor Hope S. Rugo of UCSF Medical School who worked as the lead investigator on a study into DigniCap. “I’ve had women who are trying to decide whether to do chemo or not because it’s going to adversely affect them at work when they lose their hair.”