Chemotherapy doesn't have to mean losing all your hair anymore

Published March 12, 2021

Published

Jennifer Bruck, a Nebraska Medicine cancer patient, has battled cancer twice. She knows what it feels like to lose all her hair. This time around, she decided to use the Paxman cooling system, hoping it would prevent at least some hair loss.  

"I think that hair loss, or alopecia, is the universal sign of cancer," says medical oncologist Elizabeth Reed, MD. "The idea is to apply cold to the scalp, reduce blood flow, and perhaps preserve hair after chemotherapy." 

Chemotherapy works by targeting all rapidly dividing cells in the body. Hair is the second fastest dividing cell in the body, which is why chemotherapy drugs can cause hair loss. With the Paxman cooling system, patients will still experience some hair loss, but there's also a chance to retain enough hair for patients to avoid feeling like they may need a wig or head covering. According to Paxman, patients have a 50% chance of keeping at least half their hair by using the Paxman cooling system.

Bruck was shocked when she hadn't lost any hair after her first three treatments. "It makes it easier," says Bruck. "It helps you keep a positive attitude about things. No one knows you have cancer. I was hesitant about doing it, but I'm so glad I did.”

Dr. Reed says scalp cooling is an important consideration if a patient doesn't necessarily want everyone to know they have cancer. She says, "We offer it at Nebraska Medicine because we don't just treat cancer; we treat patients.”

The Paxman scalp cooling system is available at the Nebraska Medicine Infusion Therapy at Village Pointe Health Center location. If you are interested in trying it, please call 402.559.5600