Hair loss is one of the most despised side effects of chemotherapy, and new technology is now offering a way to save those precious locks.
The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it would allow marketing of the DigniCap, a cooling system that chills patient’s scalps to reduce the hair loss that is so common during breast cancer treatment.
“It’s such a marker for women – for work, for their families, for their children – that something’s wrong with them,” said Dr. Hope Rugo of the University of California, San Francisco. “You get just a few months of chemotherapy, and it takes more than a year for your hair to recover.”
“People are frightened of people that look sick,” said Deanna King of San Francisco, who participated in the trial in late 2013 and said she retained 80 percent of her hair. “It made the experience a little less traumatic.”
The most common side effects of the DigniCap treatment were cold-induced headaches and neck and shoulder discomfort, chills and pain associated with wearing the cooling cap for an extended period, the FDA said.
The cost is being finalized, but most likely DigniCap will be leased to medical centers and insurance will cover the costs. Depending upon how many rounds of chemo a woman undergoes, the total cost could range from $1,500 to $3,000, said Dignitana chief operating officer Bill Cronin. The company is negotiating with insurance companies for coverage.