Sunday, February 25, 2024

Cold Caps For Chemo Patients

What Does The Research Show

Chemo cold caps reduce hair loss for breast cancer patients

Controlled studies of older forms of scalp hypothermia have had conflicting results. However, some studies of newer, computer-controlled cooling cap systems have shown benefits. Recent studies of women getting chemo for early-stage breast cancer have found that at least half of the women using one of these newer devices lost less than half of their hair. The most common side effects have been headaches, neck and shoulder discomfort, chills, and scalp pain.

The success of scalp hypothermia may be related to the type of chemo drugs used, the chemo dosage, and how well the person tolerates the coldness.

Some research has also suggested that people with a thicker hair layer might be more likely to lose hair than those with a thinner layer of hair. This might be because the scalp doesnt cool down enough due to the insulating effect of the hair.

Cooling caps that are not fitted tightly have also been linked with more hair loss, often in patches where contact with the scalp is poor.

There remain some unanswered questions about the safety of scalp hypothermia. Some doctors are concerned that the cold could keep chemo from reaching any stray cancer cells lurking in the scalp. Some believe that the scalp cooling might protect cancer cells there and allow them to survive the chemo and keep growing. But in people who have used scalp hypothermia, reports of cancer in the scalp have been rare. More studies are needed to answer questions about long-term safety.

Cancer Survivor Swears Scalp Cold Cap Saved Her Hair During Chemo Wants Others To Have It

When life throws you lemons, sometimes you have to regroup and make lemonade. Thats the story of Madison Novice, who was about to start her senior year at Duke University four years ago when she got a call from her doctor that changed her life.

Then 21, the Bloomfield Hills resident was told she had Hodgkins lymphoma and would need chemotherapy to help battle the disease.

Already heading for a career in the medical profession, she had volunteered at the Duke Cancer Center Boutique and been involved in helping with wig fittings for cancer patients who had lost or were going to lose their hair as a result of chemotherapy treatment.

I saw first-hand the impact hair loss had on cancer patients, she told me. When I was diagnosed, my mind jumped right to those patients I had helped at the boutique. I asked my physicians if I would lose my hair, and everyone said yes.

She took a year off from college to deal with her health issues and just finished her second year of medical school at the University of Michigan. Shes feeling blessed.

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After her diagnosis, Novice crossed paths with others who battled cancer, were concerned about losing their hair and turned to scalp cooling caps to help.

The caps work because the cold temperature restricts blood flow to the scalp and that cuts back on the impact of chemotherapy to the follicles, according to Cap & Conquer’s website.

Q: Tell me about this therapy?

Mayo Clinic Q And A: Cold Cap Therapy Can Reduce Hair Loss Caused By Chemotherapy

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: How effective is cold cap therapy in preventing hair loss in people undergoing chemotherapy treatments? Are there any risks?

ANSWER: Using a cold cap can significantly reduce hair loss caused by chemotherapy. Although some minor side effects may occur, no serious side effects have been associated with cold caps. Some have questioned whether cold caps might prevent chemotherapy from reaching cancer cells in the scalp. But that risk appears to be low.

Chemotherapy works by killing rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells. But chemotherapy cant tell the difference between cancer cells and other normal cells that also divide quickly, such as those in hair follicles. When chemotherapy attacks the hair follicles, it causes the hair to fall out.

In some cases, chemotherapy may only lead to thinning hair. In others, it makes all of a persons hair fall out. For example, studies have shown that most of the chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer cause almost total hair loss in most patients.

While losing your hair may sound like a small price to pay for preventing cancer from coming back, its a side effect thats often hard to take. Not only can losing your hair be tough on your self-image, its also a vivid and constant reminder of a cancer diagnosis.

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What To Look For When Choosing A Cold Cap

Some factors can serve as a guide to help people choose the right supplier. These factors include:

  • Cost: Most cold caps are available for rent for a monthly fee. There may also be an extra charge to cover shipping.
  • Financial assistance: A person should check whether their insurance company covers the costs of cold caps. There are also nonprofit organizations that offer financial assistance.
  • Company services: It is important to check what features a cold cap supplier is offering. For example, some manufacturers offer phone support, instructional videos, and satin pillowcases.

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center provides some tips to help individuals prepare for their scalp cooling treatment. It recommends:

  • washing the hair with a fragrance-free shampoo
  • brushing the hair gently using a soft-bristle brush or comb
  • keeping the hair short before beginning treatment
  • using products that help cover bald spots or thinning areas

Some things to avoid using during chemotherapy include:

  • swimming caps

Does Health Insurance Cover Cold Caps

Chemo patients get innovative cold caps to curb hair loss

Cold caps are available at various prices, which depend on the manufacturer, the number of chemotherapy sessions, and the duration of the scalp cooling therapy.

Most cold caps cost $380450 per month, but there may also be additional costs for shipping and refundable security deposits.

A scalp cooling system can cost $2,0002,200 for a full course of treatment. People who opt for this method may also have to pay a fee to the facility.

Aetna is a health insurance company that may provide coverage for scalp cooling to prevent hair loss.

In addition, individuals who wish to prevent cancer-related hair loss and opt for scalp cooling treatments can consider contacting a nonprofit organization.

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Can Wearing A Cold Cap During Chemotherapy Stop You Losing Your Hair

Hair loss can be an extremely distressing side effect of chemotherapy. Should I use a cold cap? is one of the most common questions about chemotherapy asked by women on Breast Cancer Nows Forum.

Cold caps, worn during scalp cooling, offer the possibility of preventing or reducing hair loss from certain chemotherapy drugs. How well scalp cooling works depends on the chemotherapy drug and doses used.

But what is scalp cooling and does it work?

We asked several women who have used cold caps to share their experiences and tips.

Cold Caps For Hair Preservation For Chemotherapy Patients

LCM-900 installed in the Welkins cold cap system

Hair loss, known as alopecia, has been a long-standing, undesirable side effect of chemotherapy. Scalp cooling is considered an option for reducing the chemo dosage impacting the cells of the hair follicles. Scalp hypothermia decreases activity making the hair follicles less desirable because chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cells. Lowering the temperature at the hair follicles in the scalp has the two-fold effect of reducing the reaction rate and simultaneously, through vasoconstriction, reducing the flow of the chemotherapy drugs to the hair follicle. Scalp hypothermia has been demonstrated to have as much as a 90% effectiveness in preventing alopecia. However, to achieve the desired result, active cooling must be provided for the chemotherapy procedure plus about one hour pre-cooling and up to six hours of post drug delivery cooling.

Arctic Cold Caps TRS-2 system

Having been in the medical cooling business over a decade, weve seen, evaluated, and implemented a host of supporting technologies. Nothing weve encountered can match Aspens blend of performance and power in such a small and versatile package when combined with Aspens exemplary applications engineers and support staff, youve got a winning combination for success in our core medical and human performance markets. Christopher Blodgett Welkins, LLC

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Why Us Know The Difference

Premium Quality

Our chemo cold caps are made from only the best, superior grade, high quality insulating foam material to provide patients optimal results.

Lowest Cost

Recommended by top medical professionals, Polar Cold Caps now offers the most affordable option for chemo cold caps


Simply select your shipping preference during checkout and everything you need will be delivered right to your door.


At Polar Cold Caps weve been in your shoes and understand how you feel. Being able to relate to your situation helps us realize your concerns and address your needs.

Best Performance

Specially engineered by top industry professionals to outperform the competition. Our gel was created to maintain cold temperatures for extended periods of time and stay flexible for added comfort.

Medical Assistance

An experienced team of medical professionals is here to help during your time of need. The customer service team at Polar Cold Caps has been rated number one amongst industry professionals and continues to pride themselves on assisting you during this difficult time.

Added Benefits

Our caps are proven to stay colder for longer, provide additional support where needed, and are constructed from a superior grade insulating material. Through years of research and extensive testing, we have learned that optimal fitting and the ability to maintain cold temperatures are important key factors to preserving the hair follicles during chemotherapy.

Cold Caps Therapy

How Does Chemotherapy Affect Your Hair

Cold caps during chemo

Hair loss occurs because chemotherapy attacks all fast-growing cells in your bodynot just cancer cells. Hair follicles are especially sensitive because those cells multiply rapidly just like cancer cells. This can cause hair loss on your scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, underarms, legs and pubic hair area.

You may start to notice your hair falling out pretty quickly, sometimes as early as the second or third week after the first cycle of chemotherapy, although it may not happen until after the second cycle of chemotherapy.

When hair starts falling out, it often comes out in clumps rather than an even pattern, Ortega said. Imagine running your fingers through your hair and having it tangle through your fingers and fall out.

Hair loss doesnt occur with all chemotherapies. Whether your hair remains as it is, thins or falls out can depend on the drugs and dosages.

Once your chemotherapy has stopped, your hair should begin to grow back, but the process can test your patience and affect your self-confidence. Thats where cold caps and scalp cooling can help.

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How To Use The Paxman Scalp Cooling System

If youre interested in using the Paxman Scalp Cooling System, talk with your healthcare provider before your first chemotherapy treatment. They will sign you up and Paxman will send you your cooling cap and kit. You will receive it in 3 to 4 days.

Its important that you get ready for your scalp cooling treatment before your first appointment. Your nurse will connect your cap to the cooling machine, but you will need to prepare your hair and fit your cap on your head.

To learn how to get ready for your Paxman scalp cooling treatment, watch the videos on the Paxman website at

After you watch the videos, practice getting your hair ready and fitting your cap. You may need some help from a caregiver, friend, or family member. You may also bring someone to your appointment with you.

Remember to bring your cap and kit with you to your appointment.

Covering The Cost Of Scalp Cooling

The cost of using cold caps or scalp cooling system varies depending on the manufacturer, the number of chemotherapy sessions you have, and the number of months you need to use the scalp cooling method.

Cold caps typically cost about $380 to $450 per month, plus shipping costs and a refundable security deposit in some cases. Scalp cooling systems can cost from $2,000 to $2,200 for a full course of chemotherapy. Some cancer centers also charge a facility fee each time you use their scalp cooling system during a chemotherapy infusion.

Insurance coverage for scalp cooling is not yet standard in the United States, but some people have successfully gotten their health insurance to cover some or all of the cost. Aetna is one health insurance company that considers scalp cooling to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy to be a medically necessary, covered expense . Check with your health insurance company to find out their policies. Also, contact the manufacturer that makes the cold cap or scalp cooling system you plan to use for advice on how to submit a claim to your health insurance company for reimbursement. Learn more about insurance coverage for the DigniCap system and about insurance coverage for the Paxman system.

  • Ross M, Fischer-Cartlidge E. Scalp Cooling: A Literature Review of Efficacy, Safety, and Tolerability for Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia. Clin J Oncol Nurs 2017. Available at:

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    Is It Right For You

    Whether or not a cooling cap will work for you depends on the type of chemotherapy you receive. Doctors have seen success in those who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer and colon cancer.

    There are some chemotherapy treatments where the chemotherapy is so potent that if even a little bit gets up to those hair follicles, theyll probably die off, says Dr. Kruse.

    Anthracyclines, for example, are a type of chemotherapy typically used to treat blood cancers like lymphomas and leukemias.

    With those medications, while you can have some hair that is kept by doing cold capping, its a much, much lower chance, says Dr. Kruse. It seems to be just because the medications are so strong.

    If cold capping sounds like a good option to you, discuss the treatment with your doctor to weigh the pros and cons. Another point to consider in your decision is how costly cold capping can be. Most insurances currently dont cover cold capping.

    The big barrier really is insurance or lack of insurance, says Dr. Kruse. For most people, it is an out-of-pocket expense.

    You can expect to pay around $1,000 for cold capping throughout your course of chemotherapy.

    But the psychological benefits of using a cold cap may prove worthwhile for many. Keeping most of your hair can have a positive impact when dealing with cancer.

    Women feel better about themselves. They feel more like themselves, says Dr. Kruse. They feel healthier in ways, and it can help normalize this experience for them.

    The Penguin Cold Cap System

    Why Some Chemo Patients Choose Expensive Cold Cap Therapy

    is a 3-cap process two caps cooling and one cap on your head.

    The Penguin caps retain their cool temperature for longer, and this means you dont need to change them as often as some other providers. This means you dont need to juggle so many caps, making Penguin a far simpler and less complicated system to use especially if youre doing it yourself.

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    Hair Loss Related To Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy works by attacking fast-growing cells. Cancer cells are fast growing, but so are other cells, such as hair cells. Chemotherapy can cause hair loss on your scalp, eyebrows, eye lashes, arms, legs, and pubic area. Depending on your chemotherapy, you can lose hair in none, some, or all of these areas.

    You may start to see your hair fall out 1 to 4 weeks after your first chemotherapy treatment. How much of your hair falls out depends on the type of chemotherapy and how much and how often you receive it. Talk with your healthcare team about the amount of hair loss you should expect from the chemotherapy you will receive.

    How quickly hair falls out also varies from person to person. The first signs of hair loss may be more hair on your pillow in the morning, in the shower, or when you brush your hair.

    Once your chemotherapy has stopped, your hair should begin to grow back. It can take 3 to 5 months for your hair to grow back, and it may have a different texture, color, or volume. For most people, hair grows in as fully as it was before chemotherapy.

    How Might It Work

    The theory behind scalp hypothermia is that the cooling tightens up or constricts blood vessels in the scalp. This constriction is thought to reduce the amount of chemo that reaches the cells of the hair follicles. The cold also decreases the activity of the hair follicles and makes them less attractive to chemo, which targets rapidly dividing cells. This could reduce the effect of chemo on the follicle cells and, as a result, prevent or reduce hair loss from the scalp.

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    Cool Caps Are Not For Everyone

    A cool cap is not appropriate for patients with advanced-stage cancers that have metastasized. There is a remote chance stray cancer cells have escaped to the scalp and if the area is cooled, the scalp could harbor these cells. Moreover, it is thought once chemo is complete, cancer cells could move and grow elsewhere. Likewise, cold caps are not suitable for blood cancers such as leukemia because cancer is circulating throughout the body. People undergoing continuous chemotherapy over several days cannot use cold caps because it is impractical to keep the scalp cold for such a long duration.

    Cold Caps Versus Scalp Cooling Systems

    Mayo Clinic Minute: How cold cap therapy is helping cancer patients

    When referring to cold caps, were referring to the traditional manual or standalone versions that are frozen before each use.

    Another similar treatment option, known as a scalp cooling system, requires the use of a machine and typically include professional service.

    Scalp cooling systems or automated cooling systems are Food and Drug Administration -approved for preventing hair loss. This option may offer better temperature control over a longer period of time but can be harder to use and come at a higher cost.

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