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Treatment helps to reduce hair loss in cancer patients

Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 12:31 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Nebraska Cancer Specialists have a new tool to battle cancer in our state.

“The DigniCap is a machine that cools the scalp,” Dr. Margaret Block, a medical oncologist, said.

For years we have known that cooling a cancer patient’s scalp during chemotherapy helps prevent hair loss.

“In fact, if you go back enough years we used to put an ice pack on the head with a tourniquet,” Dr. Block said with a laugh.

Things have advanced since then.

Each patient who uses the DigniCap Scalp Cooling System will get their own fitted cap that is filled with a coolant. In order to use it, patients will need to have their hair wetted down, and brushed. The cap will be placed on 30 minutes before the start of chemotherapy, worn throughout the treatment, and for some time after.

“The idea of the cooling is so is to constrict the blood vessels so less chemo actually gets to the scalp,” Dr. Block explained.

The Nebraska Cancer Specialists just got the machine at their CHI Henry Lynch Cancer Center. Besides one in North Platte, it’s the only treatment like it in the region.

DigniCap works best on patients battling cancer with solid tumors, like breast, prostate, or ovarian cancer.

The treatment isn’t covered by all insurance but there NCS Hope Foundation offers financial help.

While hair loss may seem like a small part of a person’s battle with cancer, decreasing the amount lost can help a patient’s overall wellbeing.

“The DigniCap allows patients to have a little more privacy in their diagnosis, it helps their self-esteem,” Kelly Horn, a physician liaison said. “We hear that when you look good, you feel good. So keeping your hair throughout your diagnosis is really important to patients.”

Right now, there’s only one DigniCap Scalp Cooling System, but the Nebraska Cancer Specialists hope to get more in the future for other centers.

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