Cold caps help to reduce hair loss from cancer treatments

Contributed photo

Teresa Pritchett (seated) and Amy Hicks -- both registered nurses at Baptist Health Paducah -- demonstrate the use of the Paxman Scalp Cooling System, a method for helping cancer patients keep their hair during chemotherapy treatments.

Hair loss is a real concern for chemotherapy patients.

Local hospitals Mercy Health-Lourdes and Baptist Health Paducah introduced a treatment in August for cancer patients called "cold cap" therapy, which helps to prevent or minimize the loss of hair during chemotherapy.

The use of scalp cooling has been proven to be effective in preventing chemotherapy-induced hair loss, and can result in patients retaining much of their hair.

Worn on the head like a shower cap, the cool cap reduces the blood flow to hair follicles. It is worn before, during and after a chemotherapy treatment. The cap lowers the temperature of the scalp to between 64 and 71 degrees.

The Paxman Scalp Cooling System, a global leader in scalp cooling technology, will be used at Baptist Health's Ray & Kay Eckstein Regional Cancer Care Center and Mercy Health's outpatient infusion therapy unit at 1532 Lone Oak Road.

Caps for Baptist Health Paducah were purchased by the Your Fight Fund, an employee-established fund to help meet the needs of local cancer patients.

"Losing hair can be a devastating side effect of chemotherapy for some cancer patients," said Michael Tutor, executive director of oncology and imaging services. "We are excited to be offering the Paxman system at Baptist Health Paducah to help some patients avoid hair loss. It's just one way we can eliminate some of their stress."

The cap will be offered free to patients at Mercy Health-Lourdes, thanks to the Mercy Health-Lourdes Foundation and grant funding it received from the Texas Roadhouse "Stomp Toward the Cure" annual event.

John Montville, executive director of oncology at Mercy Health-Lourdes, said that it costs patients $500 to buy a cap and $200 for each treatment. Those costs will be covered by funds raised by the Foundation and the Stomp fundraiser.

"We have a lot of women who need chemotherapy to help them improve their odds of cure for cancer," said breast cancer specialist Dr. Daniel Howard of Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital. "When you have something you can do to help them keep their hair, it is a huge psychological boost to their well-being."

For more information, call Mercy Health-Lourdes oncology at 270-331-2973 or the Ray & Kay Eckstein Regional Cancer Care Center at 270-554-0011.