Cooling caps have made a mark on the world of chemotherapy, but the latest news suggests they might struggle to achieve widespread availability. We look closer.
The idea was a simple one, that by significantly cooling the scalp, thus reducing blood supply to the area, fewer of the toxic chemicals used during chemotherapy will reach the hair follicles. The chemicals used in chemotherapy take deliberate aim at fast growing cells, of which the cancer cells are some. Unfortunately so are those involved in hair growth which is the reason a completely bald head on a young person is often the only outward sign that they are ill. Losing your hair at a time when you are already going through the trauma of coping with cancer can be a daunting prospect... one which prevents some women from even accepting the treatment - however crazy that might sound to some.
Cooling caps were shown to have a positive effect, though far from a guarantee against hair loss they were the first product to market which even tried to address the issue. They can, and do, make a profound difference for some patients and for certain types of chemotherapy they have achieved great results. We have, over the last 18 months or so, seen their use proliferate across continents as they gained approval by the various national agencies that control the introduction of such equipment... including the USA.
A Price On Your Hair
A problem has arisen around paying for the cap. With a typical cost of around $2000 for a bespoke fitted cap most would need their insurance to cover that expense. Unfortunately the insurance companies are baulking at the cost with many suggesting the results are not definitive enough to support their effectiveness. The two small scale studies that have been done suggest otherwise, that these caps definitely improve outcomes.
Hospitals that offer the caps will do what they can to help patients using discretionary funds, though these are usually earmarked for transport or medications so there is doubtless a fight being had for those resources.
HIS Hair Clinic
It is hard to put yourself in the place of someone undergoing chemo and being told they cannot afford the use of a device that might save some or even all of their hair. We sincerely hope that in time, with growing information to support their effectiveness, cooling caps will be covered by all medical insurance policies. Cancer is more than tough enough for anyone without the need to pile on any more misery than is necessary.
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