Breast cancer patients say 'cold capping' saved their hair. What is it and why aren't more people doing it?

10/25/2021 9:09:00 PM

Scalp cooling therapy is available to all cancer patients except those battling certain blood-related cancers, but many don’t know the option exists.

Cancer patients, survivors and advocates want to create more awareness about scalp cooling therapy and the effect hair has on a patient’s mental health, emotional health and their recovery process.

Scalp cooling therapy is available to all cancer patients except those battling certain blood-related cancers, but many don’t know the option exists.

it is 67% effective at saving at least 50% of patients’ hair.-early breast cancer, which makes up 70% of all breast cancers.What My Patients Didn't Expect During Treatment: A Nurse's Perspective What My Patients Didn't Expect During Treatment: A Nurse's Perspective By Heather Cruz, RN, as told to Stephanie Watson My patients are definitely the best part of my job as an oncology nurse., Sasha, last month.

" A study was done that found 8% of women forgo chemo out of fear of hair loss," said Dignitana spokesperson Melissa Bourestom."That’s a very scary statistic to us because, of course, the most important thing is that you're treating your cancer."This is the first time in more than 20 years that we have seen an advance in the adjuvant treatment of this form of breast cancer," lead investigator Stephen Johnston, MD, from the Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London said at a recent meeting of the European Society of Medical Oncology." Other patients opt for manual scalp cooling, offered by companies such as Penguin, in which head caps submerged in dry ice are strapped onto the patient’s head and replaced every 20 minutes by a friend, family member or professional “cold capper.I've been an oncology nurse for 22 years, and in that time I've seen people face a lot of challenges -- some they were prepared for, and some they weren't.” Dannielle Leigh hired a “cold capper” through Right Arm Inc.The new drug will “change practice,” said Giuseppe Curigliano, MD, head of the Division of Early Drug Development at the European Institute of Oncology, in Milan, Italy.when she was diagnosed with breast cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic and couldn’t bring friends or family members into the infusion center.KJ also says"Merci beaucoup" to Clara, who is off-camera.

Dannielle Leigh 'cold capping' while undergoing chemotherapy.All rights reserved.That might be OK for someone with an early-stage cancer who will get a finite series of treatments and then come through to the other side.“It was a complete support system … to have somebody there saving my hair and doing all the things that my boyfriend or my mom would have done,” said Leigh, a New Jersey resident.“That wasn’t part of my decision, but looking back now that was a great thing for me because I wasn’t alone.” Cox and Leigh found success in cold capping, but health experts warn saving hair is never guaranteed, especially among patients undergoing particularly harsh chemotherapy.That's a very hard switch for people, especially if they were first diagnosed with an early-stage cancer, they finished treatment, and then their cancer came back.It’s also a time-consuming, labor intensive and uncomfortable process.KJ Apa / Via instagram.

But for many women, it’s worth the gamble.“Having control over something felt really, really good,” Leigh said.Sometimes they just don't have the fight in them.“I couldn’t control the fact that I had a cancer diagnosis, I couldn’t control that my life was being turned upside down, but I could control the fact that I was keeping my hair.” Cox was getting married during treatment and wanted to feel like a traditional bride on her wedding day.Her children were younger when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, but are old enough now to understand what her second diagnosis meant.You May Not Get the Latest Cutting-Edge Treatment A lot of people come in wanting to be on the latest new therapy, which could be an immunotherapy or other cutting-edge treatment they've heard about on the news.

“My family has been through so much with my diagnosis and I didn’t wanted them to associate cancer with baldness or death,” she said.“I would do whatever I could do to make myself look as normal as possible so it would be less traumatizing to them.” Scalp-cooling therapy, however, is expensive.Treatment Isn't as Toxic as You Think With advanced breast cancer, a lot of the time we're giving hormonal therapy rather than chemotherapy.Patients pay to buy or rent the cooling cap and to use the machine each chemotherapy session, which can average a dozen times depending on the cancer type and severity.For manual cool capping, patients are responsible for the dry ice as well as training costs for a loved one to replace the cap.

If they don’t have someone available to do the job, a professional cold capper can cost around $300 per session.You don't hear about the normal births.Leigh said her total bill was $8,000.She plans to seek reimbursement from her insurance company.Is it a war or a journey?: Characterizing cancer as a 'war' assumes it can be won.It's toxic.Is that too simple? In the midst of chemotherapy, Dannielle Leigh saved over 90% of her hair with scalp cooling therapy.

“Maybe I’ll have a shot at getting some money back, but even if I didn’t and I had to do it all over again, I would definitely still do it,” she said.“I got to keep some dignity that normally I don’t think I would be able to do … That’s worth a lot.Even hair loss can be lessened.” Some patients have said they've paid as little as $1,800 for the entire service.Insurance is more likely to cover the machine scalp cooling systems compared to the manual cold caps, Marshall said.Although some insurance companies are improving coverage and reimbursement, many patients have to fight to get it.As a nurse, I see my job as being a symptom manager.

Overwhelmed with other medical expenses, people frequently become too tired to haggle with insurance companies and end up dropping the claim.The Rapunzel Project provides a list of diagnostic codes patients can give to their insurance company.The codes can help, but Marshall said coverage is inconsistent and often only apply to the cold cap rentals.Unfortunately, Google has lots of rabbit holes to go down.“It is an inefficient and unnecessarily expensive system,” she said.“Chemo-induced hair loss, or chemo induced alopecia, is a devastating side effect of treating cancer.

Patients deserve financial support to cope or prevent CIA.And folks who post online tend to lean toward the dramatic.” Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare.The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.Some may be finishing their treatment while you're on lifelong treatment.This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions.

In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting Recommended Stories USA TODAY Once believed to be rare, the "flesh eating" STI known as donovanosis is beginning to show up more in the UK, prompting a concern for spreading.2h ago.That can be very upsetting.

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