SÃO PAULO – One of the biggest concerns of those who do chemotherapy it is the loss of hair and hair, the result of the action of drugs on the cells during cancer treatment. One feature that can prevent or reduce this occurrence is the capillary cryotherapy with the use of english cap, which for the first time is offered at a hospital linked to the Health Unic System (SUS). The benefited cancer center is the Hospital do Câncer III, National Cancer Institute (Inca), in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
The product is based on cryotherapy, a technique that reduces the temperature of the scalp, between 18ºC and 22ºC, in order to protect the region from the harmful effects of chemotherapy treatment. Since the drugs target the rapidly multiplying cells, they cannot differentiate cancerous from healthy cells. In this way, hair cells, which have this characteristic, are also affected. The purpose of cooling is to make them “less active” so they don’t suffer so much from the intervention. The therapy is not indicated for hematological cancers or for any allergy to cold.
The technology was only available in private health networks and clinics in 14 states and the Federal District. The incorporation into the services of the hospital in Rio de Janeiro, specialized in the treatment of breast cancer, occurs through a donation from Paxman, a British company that produces the equipment. With this, the same technique used in the best hospitals in the world will be available to patients at this cancer center. Last year, the Estadão told the story behind the creation of this device, which was motivated by breast cancer suffered by the creator’s wife, who was devastated when she lost her hair in the early 1990s. Interestingly, the device’s development was based on the cooling process of beers.
Cooling the scalp to prevent chemotherapy-induced hair loss has been used for more than 50 years. Various methods were used, such as ice packs, gel helmets and air conditioning refrigeration devices. The first Paxman cap was launched in 1997, after years of research and clinical tests to prove results and effectiveness.
According to medical literature, the improvement of hair loss with cryotherapy is around 50% when stronger medications are used and 92% in less aggressive ones. It all depends on the amount of chemotherapy and treatment sessions. The effectiveness is also determined by the fact that there is no need to use props, such as wigs and scarves. Studies by the manufacturer point out that, of every hundred patients, only two give up using the equipment due to the cold caused on the scalp.
Doctors and patients consider that preventing hair loss is not just a matter of vanity and self-esteem, because the loss of hair can be, psychologically, as or more impactful than the diagnosis of cancer. “It is much more than a care with self-esteem. It is the possibility of offering SUS patients another state-of-the-art technology. They deserve it. The treatment does not apply in all cases, but it can ease the fall and preserve hair in different situations. “, highlights Marcelo Bello, director of Inca III.
English cap operation
The English cap is connected to a cooling system that keeps a liquid circulating at -4ºC, but the temperature on the scalp is around 20ºC. The accessory is placed on the patient’s head approximately 30 minutes before the beginning of the session and must be kept for an hour and a half after the procedure, depending on the protocol adopted, which is individual. With a decrease in temperature, blood flow is also reduced in hair follicles, which makes the absorption of drugs less.