Cold Cap Therapy Gives Hope for Keeping Hair!

It seems there is finally hope of keeping hair, along with a sense of identity and empowerment, during the Chemotherapy treatment process.  This comes from the use of freezing cold ice caps being applied to the scalp before, during and after treatment.  Sounds crazy, but, once you understand how it works, it makes complete sense that this therapy has an 80% success rate!

cold capCold Cap Therapy has been available for over 20 years in Europe and has just made it’s way to the U.S. over the past few years.  Here is how it works.  A patient rents several specially-designed, gel-filled caps that are frozen to -22 degrees Fahrenheit.  At this temperature the blood vessels in the scalp are constricted.  Therefore, limiting the amount  of the chemo drugs to a minimum.  The first cap in put in place 50 minutes before the chemo treatment starts.  The first and second caps are worn for 20 minutes each and every cap after that is changed every 30 minutes.  Caps are worn throughout the chemo treatment and for an additional 3 to 4 hours afterward.  This gives the liver time to dilute the strength of the chemotherapy medication in the blood so the hair follicles aren’t killed.

There has been extensive research on the effectiveness and safety of Cold Cap Therapy.  You can find much of the information, including data from clinical trials, here.  In other parts of the world there has been advancement to a single cap system, where the patient puts on a single cap for the entire procedure and then cold liquid is circulated through the cap by an attached machine. FDA approval is pending for the first single cap system in the U.S. By 2016 this machine based system will slowly start to become available to American patients.

 

TherapunzelprojectThe word about this type of treatment is spreading thanks to The Rapunzel Project.  I first learned of this organization and the treatment it supports in the August/September issue of  behindthechair.com.  In this article, Nancy Marshal, cancer survivor and Co-Founder of the non-profit organization, explains “the science behind the cap is straightforward.  Chemotherapy attacks the body’s fastest-growing cells, and along with the cancer cells, the hair follicles are also killed, which leads to hair loss.  The cap constricts the blood vessels in the scalp, drastically reducing the rate at which the chemo drugs reach the follicles.  It’s admittedly cold and uncomfortable, but the results are heartwarming.”

There has been extensive research on the effectiveness and safety of Cold Cap Therapy.  You can find much of the information, including data from clinical trials, here.  In other parts of the world there has been advancement to a single cap system, where the patient puts on a single cap for the entire procedure and then cold liquid is circulated through the cap by an attached machine. FDA approval is pending for the first single cap system in the U.S. By 2016 this machine based system will slowly start to become available to American patients.

Penguin cold capsAt this time, the only way to get the Cold Cap Therapy system is to rent from Penguin Cold Caps.  They provide you with all that you need to get you through your treatment program.  The starting cost is $580 and goes from there, depending on how many months your treatment lasts.  It includes as many crylon gel caps as you need, velcro straps, support literature and your individualized schedule of use.   Anyone using the program will need to have a support person in place to help with the process of changing the caps at the designated times.

CCAPS-Logo-177x60Unfortunately, in most cases, insurance is not on board with covering this type of treatment.  However, there is an organization, Cold Caps Assistance Projects, that is available to help those with a financial need.  It is important to apply for assistance before ordering your caps because they will assist only after your application has been approved.  The application is pretty simple and is sent in with your previous year’s tax return.  Ccaps will provide up to 100% funding depending on financial need along with guidance and support through the rental and treatment process.

Finally!  It is nice to have an option to inform those, who have already had the devastating news of having cancer, that there is hope of keeping their hair during treatment.

 

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