TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A growing number of cancer patients are freezing their scalps in attempt to preserve their hair during chemotherapy treatments.
Every Tuesday and Friday you'll find 66-year-old Janet Kaslon at UT Health Northeast Cancer Treatment and Prevention Center. "Losing your hair isn't a big deal until its actually going to happen to you, then it is," Kaslon said.
For those in fear of losing their hair while going through chemotherapy, there may be hope. Its called cold cap therapy. East Texas oncologists say cold cap therapy is fairly new but is becoming available in hospitals around the United States.
"If we can put a cold source around the scalp of a patient then we can reduce the amount of blood to the hair follicles. By reducing the size of the blood vessels theoretically the chemotherapy agents would have a harder time getting to the hair follicles. Thus less drugs being introduced to the hair and less hair would be damaged," said Cody Boyd, BSHA, UT Health Northeast Cancer Treatment and Prevention Center.
They aren't available in East Texas yet, but across the U.S., hundreds of oncologists are suggesting them to their patients.
Officials at UT Health Northeast says it may work in some types of chemo but not all. "It comes in different strengths, different forms and not all of them effect the cells. It could help in some but it might not help in all of them," Boyd said.
There are two different types of the cold caps one that you can fill with cold gel, like dry ice.
"Its cooled to a temperature of -15,-20 degrees. Its placed on the head and left there for about 30 minutes and then you replace that with a new cold source," Boyd said.
The other style works a little differently. "There is another type that you can rent a cold source with a water line basically and it runs cold fluid through that cap for the duration of your chemotherapy," Boyd said.
Patients typically wear them prior to, during and after chemotherapy, but Kaslon says she doesn't plan on wearing one anytime soon.
"I don't think I could take that freezing on my head personally but everybody's different," Kaslon said.
We're told the cold cap treatment isn't typically covered by insurance, some models have not be approved by the FDA, and the cost varies depending on how long the treatment is and the type of cap.
The average cost is about $2,000 a patient.