House Calls

FALL 2016

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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A ccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 650,000 Americans undergo chemotherapy (chemo) for cancer each year, making it one of the most common treatment methods for the disease. During chemotherapy, medications are pumped throughout the bloodstream to attack rapidly dividing cells. While the drugs kill off cancer cells, they also target fast-growing hair cells, making hair loss a common side-effect of treatment. Scalp cooling—or applying near-freezing temperatures to the scalp while chemotherapy is administered—is the only method proven to ward off chemo-related hair loss. Though manual scalp coolers known as cold caps have been around for decades, last December, Dignitana's DigniCap became the first scalp-cooling machine approved by the FDA for use by breast cancer patients. This spring, Roper St. Francis affiliated Charleston Hematology Oncology Associates became the 10th practice in the nation and first in South Carolina to offer this hair-saving treatment method. Here, Dr. David Ellison, a hematologist at the practice, explains the technology. HC: How does cooling the scalp prevent hair loss? DE: When the scalp's blood vessels get cold, they constrict, and so less blood, and therefore a lower dose of chemotherapy, reaches hair cells. In initial trials, 70 percent of patients lost less than half their hair, and, so far, we've only had two people discontinue use of the DigniCap because they weren't he use of the DigniCap because they weren't DigniCap because they weren't satisfied with their results. tisfied satisfied with their results. with their results. HC: How is the DigniCap machine different from traditional cold caps? DE: Previously, patients had to rent their own set of caps through a third eir their own set of caps through a third own set of caps through a third party, cool them on dry ice, and change them every 45 minutes to keep them cool. It was difficult and labor-intensive for patients and their families. The new, automated system consists consists of a snug-fitting silicone of a snug-fitting silicone cap cap attached to a cooling unit. The attached to a cooling unit. The machine machine circulates water throughout circulates water throughout the the cap, and temperature sensors cap, and temperature sensors ensure that the solution stays between 37 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit. HC: What does the cooling process entail? DE: When a patient comes in for chemotherapy, we fit the cap on roughly 45 minutes to an hour before treatment begins. The cap stays on during chemotherapy and for up to three hours afterward. People describe the initial discomfort as feeling similar to a brain freeze; after a few minutes, however, that goes away and the scalp feels numb. HC: Can anyone going through chemotherapy use the scalp-cooling machine? DE: For now, the DigniCap is not yet covered by insurance and is only offered to breast cancer patients, as the clinical trial approved by the FDA was specific to those with breast cancer. However, I expect that it will be approved for use by additional cancer patients, as well, in the near future. In the meantime, manual cold caps are available to all. HC: What are the emotional effects of reducing hair loss during chemotherapy? DE: For many women, hair loss has a significant effect on one's self-image, so scalp cooling allows patients to maintain their self- image while receiving treatment. Also, it can take longer for lost hair to grow back than for a patient to feel healthy again, which prolongs their return to normalcy. This treatment helps accelerate that return to normalcy. Cool Headed New technology is helping Lowcountry breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy avoid losing their hair – B Y J A C Q U I C A L L O W A Y h o u s e c a l l s { fall 2016 } 47 new horizons Dr. David Ellison DigniCap scalp cooling gniCap DigniCap scalp cooling scalp cooling system from Dignitana stem system from Dignitana from Dignitana Scalp cooling is the only method proven to reduce chemotherapy- related hair loss. P H O T O G R A P H S ( D R . E L L I S O N ) B Y K R I S T I N A V E R R I N G T O N ; & ( D I G N I C A P ) C O U R T E S Y O F D I G N I T A N A

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