(PRESS RELEASE) – As the world observes Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Health City Cayman Islands is offering breast cancer and other solid tumor cancer patients an opportunity to reduce chemotherapy-induced hair loss through the use of a machine called DigniCap.
According to Health City oncologist Dr. Vineetha Binoy, DigniCap is the first automated scalp-cooling system approved by the FDA to treat chemotherapy-induced hair loss. And while it’s being used in all major cancer treatment centers in the United States, this is the first time the machine is being used in the Caribbean region for patients who would otherwise have to cope with the devastating effects of hair loss.
She explained that scalp cooling works by constricting the blood vessels which supply hair follicles and because of this “chemotherapy doesn’t reach hair follicles, thereby preventing damage to them.”
DigniCap replaces a manual cold cap system that Health City used for about two years courtesy of a donation from the Cayman Islands Breast Cancer Foundation. The new DigniCap, which circulates cool air around the scalp while the patient is seated during chemotherapy, does not have to be changed manually every 25 minutes, thereby improving patient comfort significantly.
In the United States, the cost of Dignicap treatment is estimated to be $300 to $600 a month which amounts to a total cost of $1,500 to $3,000 over the course of treatment. Since health insurance companies do not approve it universally as yet, for most patients this is an out-of-pocket expenditure. However, Health City provides this service to all of its patients free of any cost.
The Health City oncologist noted that a cancer diagnosis is “often the lowest point in anybody’s life when they have no control over any aspect of what’s happening (regarding) their treatment … cold capping is a personal choice and the option of preserving their hair and not to have a wig or to go bald essentially gives them a sense of control over what’s happening.” In addition to boosting the patient’s self-esteem, Dr. Binoy said “it has been found to help patients cope with chemotherapy better.”
The oncologist cautioned that the benefit of cold capping doesn’t extend to all patients or all chemo regimens “but is beneficial only to a select number of patients for certain chemotherapy regimens and cancers. It is not for everybody – it is not a universal solution but is a solution or option for a lot of patients.”