DigniCap® System Minimizes Hair Loss During Chemotherapy
When you’re fighting breast cancer, fear of hair loss is now something you may have an answer for. While hair loss has long been a common side effect of chemotherapy, there is now an option with the DigniCap® System. A cooling cap worn during chemotherapy treatment is helping to prevent hair loss—and it’s available at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Menorah Medical Center.
The DigniCap is a snug-fitting silicone cap that cools the scalp and hair consistently (and comfortably) during chemotherapy infusions.
Cooling the scalp serves two purposes:
- It slows down blood flow to the scalp. That means less of the damaging chemotherapy drug(s) reaches the hair cells.
- It decreases cellular metabolism in the hair and scalp, so the chemo drugs that do reach those cells do less damage.
As a result, hair cells have a higher likelihood of surviving the chemotherapy process, which means less hair loss after treatment.
There are several sizes of cap so patients get one that will fit them best. The cap is put on at room temperature and then gradually cooled to therapeutic levels. The patient’s ears are not covered for comfort and so they can still hear during treatment.
What To Expect On Infusion Day
Patients don’t have to prepare for a chemotherapy treatment with DigniCap except to come with clean hair (greasy hair can prevent the cap from cooling the scalp evenly). You will also need to be at the center a little earlier for the cap to be applied before treatment.
Your hair will be wet and combed against your scalp before that cap is placed on—this helps the cooling process. An outer neoprene cover is placed over the silicone cap to seal in the coolness and make wearing the cap more comfortable. The cap is then gradually cooled to 37-41° F (3-5° C), which takes 15 to 30 minutes.
The cap is worn during the entire infusion and then left on for a post-infusion cooling session that can range from 30 to 150 minutes depending on the chemotherapy medication dosage. Once that is done, the cap is gradually warmed again to room temperature (about 15 minutes).
Deciding if DigniCap is Right For You
DigniCap is not a guarantee that hair loss will be prevented (most patients will still lose a small amount of hair) and its success can vary depending on the treatment regimen. Patients are advised to talk to their doctor about the potential benefits for them.
There is a cost to utilizing the DigniCap system, and some insurance providers may not cover it. Since it is a newly available therapy you may need a little more time than usual to get answers from your insurance provider about coverage.
If you or a loved one are facing chemotherapy treatments and want to learn more about DigniCap at Menorah Medical Center, call the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at (913) 498-7409.