Image: The DigniCap scalp cooling system (Photo courtesy of Dignitana).
A cooling system intended for breast cancer patient receiving chemotherapy can also reduce hair loss (alopecia) in solid tumor cancer patients.
The Dignitana (Lund, Sweden) DigniCap scalp cooling system works by circulating liquid coolant through a silicone cap placed tightly and directly on the head, thus delivering consistent and controlled cooling to all areas of the scalp. An outer neoprene covering insulates and secures the silicone cap in place, while two built-in sensors continuously monitor scalp temperature, maintaining optimal cooling throughout the treatment. The cap is shaped to leave the patients’ ears uncovered for comfort and ease of hearing.
Key system features include quick-disconnect to accommodate bathroom breaks, an intuitive touch screen interface to simplify system operation, and flash memory that makes it possible to save data from each scalp cooling treatment and facilitates software upgrades. A built-in safety sensor ensures cooling temperature does not drop below freezing point. The cooling cap itself is available in multiple sizes to ensure a personalized fit, and has a smooth inner surface to enable optimal contact between scalp and cap. Simultaneous treatment of two patients can be implemented using two independently controlled systems.
“We are pleased to expand the use of this product for cancer patients with solid tumors to potentially minimize chemotherapy-induced hair loss,” said Binita Ashar, MD, director of the division of surgical services at the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). “Managing the side effects of chemotherapy is a critical component to overall health and quality of life.”
Once the temperature of the scalp is lowered, the resulting blood vessel vasoconstriction reduces the amount of chemotherapy agents that reach the scalp, and also reduces cellular uptake of drugs due to a decreased intra-follicular metabolic rate. The combined actions reduce the effect chemotherapy has on the cells in the scalp, which may reduce hair loss.