MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WRIC) — Losing your hair and going bald is an added worry for anyone already trying to cope with a cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy.
A new treatment called Cold Cap therapy could spare the hair of breast cancer patients. Bon Secours is the first health system in the Richmond region to offer the treatment.
“There’s the fitted, and then this outer cap that kind of keeps the cold in place,” explained Stephanie Crockett, the nurse manager at Bon Secours Southside Outpatient Infusion Center in Midlothian.
The fitted cap is worn by the patient after applying a special conditioner. The cap cools the scalp and stops blood flow to the hair follicles.
“The theory is if blood flow is not going, the chemotherapy is not going to get there to damage the hair follicles,” said Dr. William Irvin, the director of Medical Oncology at Bon Secours Southside Outpatient Infusion Center. “So, hair will fall out less.”
Our sister-station WRIC was told there’s no pain but you will be cold.
“I’ve had some people describe it as the brain freeze, you know like a cold ice cream,” Dr. Irvin explained.
“Most of our patients are very concerned about hair loss they really want to maintain that one piece of control,” says Crockett.
The technology is already accomplishing the mission. After one recent patient completed her chemotherapy, she rang a bell and thanked the staff for helping her keep her hair.
“After the bell was rung she said ‘you all saved my hair,’ she said ‘I just, I just did not want to be bald,” Crockett recalled.
Three Bon Secours centers in the area offer the Paxman Scalp Cooling System: Bon Secours Southside Outpatient Infusion Center in Midlothian, Bon Secours Bremo Outpatient Infusion Center in Richmond and Bon Secours Hanover Outpatient Infusion Center Mechanicsville.
Some insurance covers the therapy but not all; however, some foundations will help cover the costs.