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'Cooling cap' to minimize chemotherapy hair loss now available to WRH cancer patients

The exterior of the Windsor Regional Hospital emergency department is shown in a May 19, 2023, file photo. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC - image credit)
The exterior of the Windsor Regional Hospital emergency department is shown in a May 19, 2023, file photo. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC - image credit)

A new "scalp cooling" system is now available to cancer patients hoping to minimize their cancer-related hair loss, Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) said Thursday.

The Paxman Scalp Cooling System, or "cold cap" became available to patients in August. The system can help reduce hair loss for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Hair loss is a common side effect of the treatment.

"It can certainly improve the quality of life and outlook, for many patients receiving cancer treatment," said Nicole Sbrocca, director of the cancer program at Windsor Regional Hospital.

"The loss of hair is more than cosmetic; it's a very personal and individualized challenge that goes along with a life-changing diagnosis."

The coolling system consists of a compact refrigeration system that circulates coolant through patient cooling caps that bring the temperature to about 18 C. A session, where a patient wears the cold cap, lasts from between 30 and 45 minutes immediately before a chemotherapy treatment, and up to 2.5 hours post-infusion.

Patients can book the system at a financial cost, though the hospital notes the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation has made funding available to patients facing financial challenges.

"Patient dignity is an important aspect of health and well-being, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to support initiatives like these," said Houida Kassem, executive director of the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation.