A DIGNIFIED LOOK IN BETWEEN CHEMOTHERAPY TREATMENTS

October 2, 2019

A DIGNIFIED LOOK IN BETWEEN CHEMOTHERAPY TREATMENTS

ThedaCare Offering Patients DigniCap Technology

APPLETON, Wis. – Although medical attention is part of the journey for patients with breast cancer, chemotherapy-induced hair loss can be one of the most psychologically distressing side effects, hampering a patient’s positive self-image and attitude toward treatment.

“Hair is such a personal and identifying aspect for so many people,” said Lisa Kellnhauser, Coordinator of Cosmetology Services at ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center. “We understand it can be difficult to lose a physical piece of yourself during treatment.”

Kellnhauser explained a scalp-cooling technology known as DigniCap, offered at ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center since 2017, is giving hope to patients who want to keep their hair.  ThedaCare is the first system in Wisconsin and the only one in Northeast Wisconsin to offer this now FDA-approved technology for use with patients of solid tumor cancers. Last year, ThedaCare added its second DigniCap system to accommodate four patients at one time, meeting demand.

“The scalp is cooled enough to constrict the blood flow to reduce the delivery of chemotherapy drugs to the area of hair follicles,” said Kellnhauser. “The result can be less hair loss. Patients wear the cap before, during and for a period of time after receiving chemotherapy.” 

Research published in the March 2018 issue of the Journal of Oncology Practice shows DigniCap preventing hair loss in up to 70 percent of chemotherapy patients.

“For some patients, it can be enough not to have to wear a wig,” said Kellnhauser. “Those are the results we are seeing for the patients who have used the scalp-cooling technology.”

A conversation with your cancer care team about this treatment is advised prior to scalp-cooling treatments. The most common side effects reported have been headaches, coldness or light-headedness. For women who pursue it, it’s suggested they are gentle with their hair during treatments – no hair rollers, blow-drying or harsh brushing. Similar to other cosmetology services, scalp-cooling treatments are not covered by most insurance companies. DigniCap costs $325 per treatment with a maximum out-of-pocket cost of $2,925, or a total of nine treatments. For patients unable to afford treatments, there are potential grants available from the generous donors to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations.

“Anyone who wants to try the scalp-cooling therapy will likely have the opportunity to do so,” Kellnhauser emphasizes. “We truly want to make this an option for our patients.”

Researchers continue to discover new breakthroughs in cancer hair-loss treatment. A recent study reports there is a new strategy that could further prevent chemotherapy-induced hair loss. Scientists also hope other approaches can promote hair follicle regeneration for patients who have already lost their hair due to chemotherapy.

Meantime, Kellnhauser wants patients with breast cancer to know they can turn to this technology to help improve their self-esteem, sense of well-being and reduce a visible sign of chemotherapy treatment.

“DigniCap gives patients the opportunity to still look like themselves and feel good about themselves at such a difficult time in their lives,” said Kellnhauser. “Caregivers understand that promoting a positive attitude can go a long way in helping with treatment.”

To learn more about cancer care cosmetology services, call 920.364.3660.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to a community of more than 600,000 residents in 14 counties and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals. ThedaCare has 180 locations including seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.