Feb 2016

Hair Loss Prevention During Chemotherapy

Paxman Hair Loss Prevention During Chemotherapy

The Epworth Medical Foundation has recently installed the Paxman Hair Loss Prevention System, a new machine to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy. Epworth are now offering the revolutionary system to patients thanks to generous contributions from donors through the Epworth Medical Foundation.

Hair loss is a major concern for breast cancer patients facing treatment, the thought of losing their hair is a very frightening one. The ability to control this is not only a big step for the industry but for patient comfort too.

Scalp cooling has been available for over 40 years, older versions using crushed ice or frozen gel caps. The previous caps sometimes resulted in temperatures of -25 degrees, causing unbearable patient discomfort. Only through the recent advances technology with Paxman system has it been effective and comfortable for patients. It is widely available in the UK and Europe, today there are currently machines installed in over 1800 centres worldwide. A UK observational study reported an 89% success rate after using the Paxman system, with only 11% having severe hair loss requiring a wig or head covering.

The Paxman Hair Loss Prevention System uses a ‘scalp cooling’ method or ‘cold cap treatment’ system. The Paxman system is a small refrigerated unit which is plugged in next to the patient during chemotherapy treatment. The machine pumps a liquid coolant through a light silicone cap that is attached to the cooling machine, therefore extracting heat from the scalp. The cap is worn before, during and after chemotherapy has been administered, depending on the patients type of treatment this could take up to 2-3 hours.

The scalps reduced temperature causes vasoconstriction of blood vessels in the area, therefore reducing blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles while the drugs are circulating in the body, minimising the damage to the follicles.

A mild discomfort is often felt by patients on first contact but the system otherwise has no side effects and does not interfere with treatment in any way.