Could a cold cap save your hair?: Oct 28, 2010

Cold cap therapy may help women undergoing chemotherapy keep their hair.
8:52 | 09/05/19

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Transcript for Could a cold cap save your hair?: Oct 28, 2010
For so many cancer patients hair loss is the most dramatic. Side effect of chemotherapy now but cold calf which is more popular in Europe is starting to get some attention here as a method of keeping your hair. After chemo the treatments controversial. And there are skeptics in the medical community juju talk to cancer patients who tried the icy therapy to save their hair and try to today and tonight and did just to get a feel for but you know this is. One of those examples worse as you mentioned earlier some woman actually forgo chemotherapy because they can't stand the idea of the hair loss. But this treatment isn't about vanity it's about empowerment. Patient empowerment. And now doctors are beginning to reconsider this approached. All thanks to persistent patience women who are networking with other women over the new Internet. Women like Shirley billing Meyer who went on a routine mammogram this spring and got the call every woman trapped. It's. The column and so far and the first thing mace they've said to me is are you driving. And you know right away my husband and my son removing the coming home and so I get home they're right behind me. And that. They pulled up and I told them. Surely Billy Meyer was diagnosed with breast cancer her prognosis was good but a lumpectomy radiation and chemotherapy lay ahead doctors and atomic have filling my parents pentagon. There was not even a question. The senate conversation with a girlfriend opened the door she said it did you hear that it Kathy to move her hair. And that's when I spent learning about the penguin call kept. It's a wildly simple idea frozen caps keep your scalp very cold during chemo. And some help prevent hair loss one theory they still constriction with a shrinking a blood vessels. The body's own response to cooled some how protecting hair follicles from the toxic chemicals but poor results back in the eighties left Shirley song ecologist Paul Zander skeptical. In general in the past. We have not had a lot of success wouldn't. But she released dream team gave it a try anyway changing caps every thirty minutes for seven hours on each treatment day. Her friend Nancy says the challenge was a welcome distraction. It really was a three ring circus. There's like an assembly line passing caps down a taking caps off. It's like actors and I would say there's no room for anybody. To be sick care because it was just such a positive feeling it seems silly to say that chemo was this happy day but it was this enormously positive upbeat saying. But would it work see for yourself after being told she definitely lose all her hair this is surely after her final treatment. My parents I'll Aaron. So did it definitely works in fact a batch of recent studies suggest that 70% of cold cap users keep their hair but a number of cancer specialist told us they're concerned that blocking chemotherapy from hair follicles in turn may leave this gal could increase risk for developing cancer down the road. Today the once skeptical doctors enter embraces cold caps though he agrees more research is needed. I think that's well balanced by the people who. Preserve their here and get therapy they needed rather than declining therapy and have a clear increased risk. According to the manufacturer cold caps have worked for thousands of patients in Europe. And more than a hundred in the US but we found only a few hospitals here that support their use Shirley and Nancy started the proposal project to change that we look at each other and sad. It's wrong that no one knows about that's. I'm reading around negative thirty degrees Celsius. Spoke. Old you know what I'm thinking as I'm feeling. Tremendous amount of cold is. If this is gonna save my hair this is an ounce of. So bad eggs at via. That's regiment FT again use 100% of when I'm Liz kinder percent of UB guns it's like take effect cancer. Yes that's exactly what it is if you guys that had to do this chemotherapy would you Google campus and I join our stunning. Cold kept veterans say the Vick. Jury is much more than skin deep it gives you an overall sense of control that you can do something with this disease that can be out of control. And this is something you can do its part of the fight. The great news is both data. And Shirley are cancer free the reprisal project donated a freezer to New York hospital which is about to begin studying. Cold caps everyone we talk to about how the cold caps are not only about saving your hair but allowing you to escape looking sick which in turn helps you. Feel less sick and it forced them to create a circle of care something the doctor Marie talks about a lot. But that the group of love one. Who can love and support you throughout the process so let's bring in doctor Marie Savard and this conversation because we've seen this was with breast cancer patients are there some cancers where this. Should not be used in this is not and could the cold cap is not for everyone so for example if you have what we call blood borne type of cancer and lymphoma leukemia. So you see a lot of young kids will have. It's not for them because the concerned there is that the blood. Does circulate and you would possibly have cancer cells on the scout you want that chemotherapy to get everywhere so that is not the case with Prescott with her breast cancer it's a preventive treatment patients who are undergoing preventive chemotherapy. And they're getting just a short course and they're getting it in a phone for a few hours time at the pulse therapy so the idea that the ice works makes sense on the other hand we also know that for preventive. Treatment for breast cancer it's very unusual very rare to see. Cancer developed in the scale or discolored area so again that's a very positive reason why there's insurance can get a look. The cost of this I would imagine insurance doesn't cover this Nellie doesn't and it you know if you have to use the dry ice to cool the caps it's like you could rent that. Caps themselves and then by the dry ice it can be about 15100 dollars and clearly insurance is not gonna cover something that hasn't been thoroughly studied and that's what's beginning to happen. Yu CS UCSF is beginning to study at New York hospitals beginning to study and once the data come and I think it'll become more widely accepted. I gotta tell you I did not know about this when I went through breast cancer 2007. And I'm sitting at a muttering I've put I think it. And I II prop I would've liked to known. Man I don't know if I would have because there's a part of me that feels that the cancer. The Q what was working. That because I don't have that the losing the hair and I was virtually assured that I Abigail emotional talking ansari. And seeing this. That it was going to fight the cancer is working and you want to do everything that you can and there are some we should say there are some chemotherapy treatments we don't lose your hair but the red double you do. That's true I think deep for doctors who we often ask our physicians about that. And they don't even know that that that's being tried again in Norway's. In the 1980s. When I was training we wouldn't talk about it it was something that was used right research wasn't very good people use kind of like a shower cap with ice cubes. And the technique wasn't as good we didn't use it as long. I'm interested that there is some hope that this might be a technique that will work for many patients I do think we have to pay attention we need a lot more study. Yes we need to follow patients there is the concerns you said you you want to know that the chemotherapy is working. Trust me there are other ways I think that your body tells you that they can that there are now working for sure and hair loss is as you know devastating for so many women so many family. It's like you're saying -- earlier you were saying this to very it's not about vanity I mean when you lose your hair it's like you can't hide it anymore people know. That something's wrong credit. I have small children. It's very frightening exactly. Announce what did it was saying is that her colleagues didn't know her friends only the people she wanted to bring into that private circle. But right comedic key was the oncologist at New York hospital I asked him point blank if you compress certain breast cancer in Unita the schema would you do and she said. I put myself in the clinical trial I mean she recognizes and weighs the risks. And and feels very comfortable with it's it just seemed that nurses did a lot of these early studies and I think this is something the typical medical profession we think of survival and good outcome. We don't work so hard sometimes on this treating the side effects. But I think we have to recognize how important pare losses. And if there are techniques this is the 21 century we if we can find a way to simply inexpensively. Help women not lose their hair cuts huge. But I gotta say this latest on the settings before and I'll say it again I am not my hair in DR Reid got to remember that you're not being here here though it is huge. Huge issue but people should be made aware of and assumptions and have this choice choice choice is reasonable under the and I think you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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