Second ‘cold cap’ helps prevent chemo hair loss

Posted 22 Aug 2023
More women undergoing chemotherapy for breast and ovarian cancers will have a chance of retaining their hair, thanks to the purchase of a second ‘cold cap’ machine at Flinders.

The scalp cooling system works by lowering the temperature of the scalp, which reduces blood flow to hair follicles to prevent or minimise hair loss.

“With two machines we can offer cold cap treatment to up to five women per day, and it also makes scheduling easier and more convenient because patients can be accommodated on the same day they see their doctor, rather than having to come back on another day when it’s available,” Flinders Infusion Suite Clinical Nurse, Janet Baker, says.

While the treatment isn’t effective for all women, and it often comes with some discomfort, Janet says more women are researching cold caps and requesting it when commencing chemotherapy.

“We have had a wide variety of results from using cold caps from excellent success to failure … it is wonderful that we can offer this service to our patients.

“They’ve often commented that keeping their hair improves their mental health and can reduce distress for family members.”

Jill Kaye (pictured) is among those who researched the system prior to starting her chemotherapy treatment earlier this year for breast cancer.

“I started with very thick hair, and although I have lost a lot of it and I can tell it’s obviously thinner, I’ve still got a full covering of hair…without the cold cap I know I would have lost all my hair.

“It wasn’t always the easiest thing to wear and I had to really steel myself when it was first on and distract myself with snacks, my phone and some music or a book…. but I had a really good outcome and I think keeping my hair really helped me through this mentally.”

Funds donated by Flinders Foundation’s supporters, together with the Flinders Medical Centre Volunteer Service, purchased the first cold cap machine in 2019, with a generous supporter recently purchasing this second system for the Flinders Infusion Suite.

I felt strong and optimistic about my cancer diagnosis, but I was a bit worried about how hair loss might impact me, so I thought I’d give the cold cap a go.

Jill Kaye

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