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NCIS Scalp Cooling Therapy

NCIS Scalp Cooling Therapy

Hair loss is a common side effect that affects more than 75% of patients who undergo chemotherapy treatment, due to the presence of cytotoxic agents that are commonly used in the treatment of various cancers - including breast, lung, gastrointestinal and gynaecological cancers.

Chemotherapy aims to remove, kill and damage cancer cells by targeting the rapidly dividing and growing cells and that include hair cells which are the second fastest dividing cells in the body, resulting in hair loss. Depending on the type of chemotherapy drug used, the patient's hair will become thinner and starts to fall out gradually in clumps two to three weeks upon commencement of the treatment or after a few cycles. The hair usually grows back in six to twelve months after completion of the chemotherapy treatment.

While losing hair may be distressing and stressful, scalp cooling therapy can now help patients undergoing certain types of chemotherapy to prevent hair loss and boost their morale.

Scalp cooling therapy works by reducing the temperature of the scalp immediately before, during and after the administration of chemotherapy. The scalp cooling system delivers the cooling via a “cold cap” that is worn on the patient's head. Reducing the scalp temperature decreases the blood flow rate to the scalp by 60 to 80%, alleviating the damage caused to the hair follicles by chemotherapy.  

It begins with the measurement and adjustment of the “cold cap” on the patient’s scalp. This is to ensure the scalp remains at an even, constant cool temperature throughout the therapy to minimise hair loss. A session consists of 30 minutes of cooling immediately before chemotherapy begins, throughout the entire chemotherapy infusion and up to 90 minutes after the completion of the infusion.  

The scalp cooling therapy is currently available to NCIS patients who are undergoing chemotherapy at NUH.

Patients who are interested should consult their primary doctor on suitability.