Hair Loss: Scalp Cooling Treatment Reduces Risk | Loyola Medicine
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Loyola Medicine Offering Scalp Cooling Treatment to Reduce the Risk of Chemotherapy Hair Loss

MAYWOOD, IL – Loyola Medicine is offering cancer patients a treatment that reduces the risk of hair loss by cooling the scalp.

During chemotherapy sessions, the patient wears a silicone cooling cap. The cap contains a circulating coolant that reduces the temperature of the scalp by a few degrees.

Breast cancer patient Jennifer Blattner, of Elmhurst, Illinois, is the first Loyola patient to undergo scalp cooling. Ms. Blattner said the treatment has preserved about 50 percent of her thick, wavy brown hair, enough so that she does not need to wear a wig or scarf.

"The preservation of as much hair as you can is good for your self-esteem," she said. "This is an amazing technology." 

Ms. Blattner said the first few minutes of scalp cooling are uncomfortable, "but you get used to it."

Loyola is offering scalp cooling because studies have found that for many patients, hair loss is one of the most distressing side effects of chemotherapy, said Ms. Blattner's oncologist, Shelly Lo, MD.

Chemotherapy targets rapidly growing cells, including cancer cells and hair follicles. Many chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss beginning around two weeks after the first round of chemotherapy. Scalp cooling reduces this risk by constricting blood vessels and blood flow to hair follicles, reducing the delivery of chemotherapy drugs to the scalp, along with the metabolic rate. The cooling method used by Loyola, Paxman Scalp Cooling System, recently was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for patients with breast and other solid tumors.

A multicenter study of the system, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that among 101 breast cancer patients who underwent scalp cooling, 66.3 percent experienced hair loss of 50 percent or less. Among a comparison group of 16 chemotherapy patients who did not receive scalp cooling, none experienced such hair preservation. In the cooling group, 3.8 percent of patients experienced mild headaches and 2.8 percent discontinued the treatment due to feeling cold.

"The findings of this study were impressive, so we feel it is important to offer scalp cooling as an option for our patients," Dr. Lo said.

Dr. Lo said scalp cooling does not work with some chemotherapy drugs, and results vary according to the patient's age, hair, cancer and other factors. The cost, about $2,000, is not covered by insurance.

Loyola offers scalp cooling at the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, located on Loyola Medicine's main campus in Maywood. The center includes clinic areas, chemotherapy services, research laboratories and the spa-like Coleman Foundation Image Renewal Center, which provides services such as hair care, breast prosthesis fittings and massage therapy.

About Loyola Medicine

Loyola Medicine is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC) in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH) in Melrose Park, MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from more than 1,772 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. The medical center campus is also home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. GMH is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments in a convenient community setting. Loyola Medicine is a member of Trinity Health, one of the nation’s largest health systems with 94 hospitals in 22 states.

About Trinity Health

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 93 hospitals, as well as 122 continuing care programs that include PACE, senior living facilities, and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $17.6 billion and assets of $23.4 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity Health employs about 131,000 colleagues, including 7,500 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity Health is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services — ranked by number of visits — in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs. For more information, visit www.trinity-health.org. You can also follow @TrinityHealthMI on Twitter.