Women keeping their hair during Chemo treatments

October 21, 2011 1:50:09 PM PDT
Women dealing with cancer treatments are all too familiar with some of the side effects, and so many times, that includes losing their hair.

Now, doctors are trying something new to minimize the hair loss. But it's controversial, and not all doctors want to try it.

After the dreaded phone call, a diagnosis of breast cancer and a mastectomy, Andree Brown found out she still needed Chemotherapy.

"I said is there anything that I can do to save my hair and she said no," said Brown.

But she heard about Cold Cap and decided to try it.

The makers of the device say it prevents hair loss by cooling the scalp, constricting blood vessels and stopping the drugs from reaching the hair follicles.

To help women use Cold Caps, Nancy Marshall cofounded the Rapunzel Project, a nonprofit that also raises money to provide biomedical freezers to hospitals.

"We've placed about 20 freezers around the country," says Nancy.

They eliminate the need for coolers and dry ice.

"We want people to know you don't have to lose your hair to have Chemo," adds Nancy.

So why aren't all patients using cold caps?

One concern people have is if there are cancer cells in the scalp or follicles then the cold cap will prevent those cells from being destroyed and not all doctors agree that cold scalp therapy works.

"It's not necessarily a medically proven thing to do," said Dr. Tessa Cigler.

Dr. Cigler is an oncologist at the Weill Cornell Breast Cancer Center and recently began a small study.

"Everyone has been amazed to see that these chemotherapy programs which usually cause 100 percent of hair loss in 100 percent of patients women who use the cold caps have not been losing the hair have not needed to wear wigs," she says.

And the hair loss can only potentially be prevented if you start the caps before you start chemo. And to use the caps you rent them. The cost is $500-$600 per month, and it's usually not covered by health insurance.

LINK: WATCH http://www.rapunzelproject.org