The “Cold Cap” Might Put A Freeze on Chemotherapy-Induced Hair Loss

Hair loss has always been considered an inevitable part of fighting cancer. Every year, The American Hair Loss Association receives countless e-mails from women across the world diagnosed with cancer who claim to be just as terrified of chemotherapy-induced hair loss as they are of their cancer itself. Sadly, many women are willing to consider alternative unproven treatments, just to avoid losing their hair to chemotherapy.

While most patients and physicians accept the inevitability of hair loss as being a part of successful cancer treatment, having the ability to avoid chemo-induced hair loss (anogen effluvium) would make the treatment process considerably more palatable, allowing patients to concentrate more on healing as opposed to what they look like during treatment.

Now there is hope.

According to a study in the European Journal of Cancer, 87% of patients who used the “Cold Cap” during chemotherapy, saved their hair from falling out. Another study published in the Annals of Oncology looked at several different methods of hair retention and found scalp cooling to be the most effective.

The Penguin Cold Cap is kept at 22 degrees below zero and placed on the head before, during, and after receiving a treatment. It essentially freezes the hair follicles which prevents the chemo from being absorbed.

Shirley Billigmeir is one cancer survivor who knows first hand just how effective the cold Cap can be in preventing chemo-induced hair loss. Billigmeier was so impressed and thankful after her experience, she began a foundation to create awareness for the Cold Cap. She has even raised enough money to put a special freezer into Abbott Northwestern Hospital, the facility where she underwent her treatment, so other women can have access to the Cold Caps.

“They are excited it’s a possibility, because many people have never heard that you can keep your hair during chemo with drugs that are supposed to take your hair,” Billigmeier said.

Billigmeier is now working with her new foundation, The Rapunzel Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping chemotherapy patients keep their hair during treatment and to get more freezers for more hospitals.

To learn more about The Rapunzel Project visit:


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