Hair is an important part of the body for many women. It is a means of expression and sharing uniqueness. Hair loss from chemotherapy is like the straw that broke the camel’s back. First you struggle to cope with your breast cancer diagnosis. Then you suffer the physical effects of chemotherapy and of losing one or both of your breasts. Finally, you must also deal with losing your hair.
Many women worry about losing their anonymity as a side effect of losing their hair. They worry that people on the street won’t identify them as just another person, but as a cancer patient. These worries cause up to six percent of women to refuse chemotherapy all together.
However, chemotherapy-related hair loss may soon be a thing of the past.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently cleared a new device that reduces hair loss resulting from chemotherapy. The results of testing the device appear promising.
Dignitana, a company based in Sweden, made the device, which is called the DigniCap®. DigniCap® is available in Asia, Australia, and Europe, and has been for a while. Patients wear a silicone cap before, during, and after a chemotherapy session. It circulates a coolant throughout the cap to lower scalp temperature. By cooling the scalp, the blood vessels in the area constrict. This prevents chemotherapy drugs from reaching and destroying the hair follicles.
But couldn’t the cap make the head so cold that it’s uncomfortable?
Fortunately, no. Sensors on the DigniCap® keep track of the temperature of the scalp. These sensors adjust the airflow when needed to ensure the scalp stays within the proper temperature range. This prevents hair loss without risking skin damage or being too cold.
DigniCap® Reduces Hair Loss from Chemotherapy Treatment for Breast Cancer Patients
The cost of using the DigniCap® system typically ranges from $300 to $500 per infusion session. Total costs vary depending on the number and duration of chemotherapy sessions. The location of the treatment also affects the cost.
Dignitana is also in the process of working with health insurers to gain coverage for the treatment. Some health insurance carriers that cover wig prices are looking at scalp cooling as a similar need. They will provide some reimbursement for the treatment. However, insurance coverage is not yet standard. It’s important that patients check with their health insurance providers. Some organizations and programs provide subsidies for the cost of DigniCap® treatment, such as HairToStay.
Regardless, the approval and new availability of the device is exciting news, especially for women who dread hair loss from chemotherapy.
Click on the image below if you’d like to learn more about DigniCap®.
My husband once said that hair for women is like cars for men, so we definitely agree with you that hair is super important for most women. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, I’ve been so stressed about losing mine, as I really do express myself a great deal through my natural curls, as you said others often express themselves through their hair. It’s so great to hear that there’s a possibility that I won’t lose my hair, and I’ll definitely look into that cap you mentioned.