Among the many miracles of modern medicine, the increasing survival rate of cancer patients has to be one of the most amazing. Treatments often combine surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy to help beat back the attack of cancer cells. One common side-effect of these treatments, however, is that all fast-growing cells are attacked in the process, which causes many patients to lose their hair. This can be a major emotional adjustment for some patients.
Research has shown that if you can keep the scalp cool during chemotherapy, you can reduce or even eliminate any hair loss. This works apparently because the cooling constricts the blood flow to the hair cells, reducing the amount of chemotherapy drugs that reach them. A Swedish company Dignitana has created a product called the DigniCap that makes scalp cooling safe and easy. The system pumps a refrigerated gel through a cap worn under an insulating layer. This makes it possible to gradually lower the temperature before the chemotherapy starts, and keep it constant throughout the session.
The device has been undergoing clinical trials in the U.S. and reportedly is close to receiving FDA approval. If it is approved, it could make the difficult process of chemotherapy a bit easier for cancer patients.