You mean I could have kept my hair?

August 17th, 2011
Penguin Cap –

All the ladies out there getting treated for breast cancer…apparently there is a preventative measure you can take to try to avoid major hair loss during chemo. I accidentally stumbled upon it doing research about another issue the other night.

Its called Scalp Cooling. There is a device on the market called Dignicap. There is also another cap called the Penguin cap.

How does it work?
The low temperature of the cap causes the blood vessels of the scalp to narrow, this reduces the amount of blood and treatment (chemotherapy drugs) that reaches the hair.  You have to wear the cold cap for 30 minutes before you receive your treatment and for at least two hours afterwards, depending on which drugs you are having.

It has been shown effective for patients receiving any of the following chemotherapy medications:

  • Docetaxel (Taxotere)
  • Doxorubicin (Adromyacin)
  • Paclitaxel (Taxol)
  • Epirubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxin)
There are success rates from different studies ranging from 70% – 85% with little or no hair loss.

I couldn’t find any data on the Dignicap but the Penguin Cap cost around $600 a month to rent.

It’s too late for me….but I will say this. I have to re-shave my head every few days because so much hair starts to grow back. It’s very coarse and not like it was before I started chemo. I think I will wait until after i’m completely done with chemo before I let it grow out. Maybe the texture will be softer then.
But I say don’t shave your head! It may be that you don’t lose all of your hair. It may just be thinner. You are probably going to wear hats or wigs anyways so keep what hair you have – it may be enough to wear under a hat and not look like you’ve lost your hair.
  1. Julie says:

    I knew about the penguin cap before I started my chemotherapy. However, the nearest infusion clinic that offered the service was three hours away. I had also read data stating concerns that the area of your scalp that is being kept cold does not get chemo, which could possibly be a problem down the road.
    I only have four rounds of Taxol to go. Mine are done weekly as to prevent problems with neuropathy. I hope to return to work as an airline pilot and if I have continued problems with neuropathy I cannot(per the FAA) return to work. By going weekly I cannot have the nuelasta shot(must have two weeks between treatments). I have had problems with my white blood cell count being too low so on those weeks I have five shots of a drug called nupagen which I must administer myself. These are way easier to handle then the nuelasta shot which could shut me down for days. Essentially I do the shots every other week. My health and well-being are much better on the weeks with the shots. In a way Taxol is easier than the other chemo(same as yours), It is still chemo though. Taxol made me lose my eyebrows and eyelashes which I had been able to retain until I started on Taxol. Psychologically losing the eyebrows and eyelashes was harder on me then losing the hair on my head, perhaps because I now look sick where as before I just looked bald. Stay strong.