Studies indicate that cold therapy may reduce some of the most unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy, including alopecia (hair loss) and (onycholysis) nail loss. Cold cap therapy helps alleviate hair loss, and cold therapy mittens and slippers help reduce nail loss.
Breast cancer patients undergoing a taxane-based chemotherapy regimen wear soft, gel-filled caps (cold caps) that are chilled to a temperature of between -30C and -32C degrees in a biomedical freezer. The cold caps, which are worn before, during and after chemotherapy treatment, cool the scalp so that hair capillaries become temporarily dormant and do not absorb chemotherapeutic drugs.
In 2014, a cold cap therapy pilot program for breast cancer patients was implemented at Norwalk Hospital under the direction of Dr. Richard Zelkowitz, medical director of the Smilow Breast Health Center and chief of Hematology/Oncology at Norwalk Hospital. Since then, more than 25 patients have participated in the program, with 80-100 percent of patients achieving favorable outcomes in hair preservation, depending on their prescribed chemotherapy drug protocol.
“We are very excited and grateful to receive this Pink Aid grant,” said Mary Heery, APRN, AOCNS, breast health specialist at the Whittingham Cancer Center. “Now we will be able to offer cold cap therapy and cold therapy mitts and slippers to underserved patients who are battling breast cancer and meet eligibility guidelines.”
For more information about the cold cap therapy program at Norwalk Hospital, please call 203-852-2300.