BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new device may allow some cancer patients to keep their hair during chemotherapy treatment.
The device, called a cooling cap, fits over a patient’s head and protects their hair from some of the damage caused by chemo.READ MORE: K9 With Carroll County Sheriff's Department Receives Bulletproof Vest
Cancer patient Amanda Bahari from Laurel has been using the cooling cap as she undergoes her fourth chemotherapy treatment. She and her husband have a cabinet business, and she didn’t want her diagnosis to affect potential clients.
She turned to the cooling cap and still has her hair.
The helmet-like cap is attached to a refrigeration machine and coolant is pumped through it before, during and after chemo.
“It’s actually pretty comfortable. Initially, you have to get used to having a cold head. That’s the only thing,” Bahari said, laughing.READ MORE: Orioles Rank 8th As Booziest Fanbase In Major League Baseball, Survey Says
The cooling system narrows the blood vessels beneath the skin of the scalp, reducing the amount of chemotherapy medicine that reaches the hair follicles. Less medicine means less damage to those follicles and a reduced likelihood the hair will fall out.
“We can’t underestimate the value to maintaining that portion of one’s identities and it’s just something, a little something that can be added to make the process of chemotherapy more tolerable,” said Dr. Paula Rosenblatt, an oncologist with the University of Maryland.
Dr. Rosenblatt said results vary depending on the type of chemotherapy needed to fight cancer. While one patient may keep 70 percent of their hair, another may only keep 25 percent.
Keeping their hair gives patients a continued sense of normalcy and privacy as they fight a life-changing disease, Dr. Rosenblatt said.
“It’s also helpful when you go out because then nobody’s staring at you or wondering what’s wrong with this person,” Bahari said.MORE NEWS: Maryland Casinos Generate $126.2M During February
The treatment isn’t cheap — it can cost up to $2,500 and is generally not covered by insurance. There are some grants available to help patients who use the cooling cap.