Progress in combatting side effects of chemotherapy

Weekly look at 'What's Going Around'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Coming to terms with a breast cancer diagnosis is hard enough- coping with the possibility of hair loss during chemotherapy can add even more distress. A new device, just approved by the FDA could change that. News4Jax spoke to a local doctor on how the Dignicap could be the answer to one of the dreaded side effects of treatment.

"The coldness in this cap, keeps the chemotherapy from getting to the scalp and then will keep, hopefully, their hair from falling out as rapidly as if they didn't have that cold cap on,” said Dr. Leann L. Fox with St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Riverside.

It's a special cooling cap that's causing a lot of excitement in the oncology world. The FDA has just given the green light for DigniCap- a device that could help patients retain up to 80% of their hair while undergoing chemotherapy.

"The good thing about this particular cap which was just recently approved by the FDA is that it will consistently regulate the coldness of the temperature. Other caps in the past allowed some temperature variance as the cap warmed up and the concern was you weren't getting the very best results,” said Dr. Fox.

The device is currently only approved for breast cancer patients and not available in local hospitals yet but, the device is slowly making its way into cancer centers around the nation.

"It does show promise and certainly medical oncologists are excited about using this and I'm sure that the more women that hear about this they'll also be very excited,” said Dr. Fox.

Side effects of the cap include headaches, neck and shoulder discomfort, chills, and the risk of the cancer coming back in the scalp. Dr. Fox says the cap isn't for everyone and you never want to compromise a patient's long-term health at the risk of hair preservation. But, the cap definitely offers hope for the future.