For the first time at Orange Base Hospital, a cold cap machine is available for women with breast cancer, helping reduce the amount of hair lost during chemotherapy.
The cold cap cools the scalp during and after chemotherapy, reducing the blood flow to hair follicles, preventing or minimising hair loss.
McGrath Breast Care Nurse at the Central West Cancer Service, Susan Kuter, said the cold cap was currently being trialled at Orange and if successful the unit would look at purchasing one permanently for the Hospital.
“Many women with a diagnosis of breast cancer actually fear alopecia and hair loss more than the chemotherapy treatment so it's exciting to be able to offer them this opportunity," said Mrs Kuter.
“We are initially trialling this device on women with breast cancer who require three months of chemotherapy as we need to gauge the results in a fairly quick timeframe with a chemotherapy that generally causes hair loss. We currently have three ladies receiving treatment using the cold cap.
“We're trialling the device to see how suitable it is for our patients and how it can be used by our staff and the unit. This will help us plan how we might use a cold cap machine in the future.
“Using the cold cap adds an extra two hours to a normal chemotherapy treatment. The scalp cools the head down to under 22 degrees Celsius by running fluid through the cap which has been chilled to between -1 degrees Celsius and -5 degrees Celsius. This cools the blood flow to the hair follicles so they aren't damaged."
Patient, Ellen Davies, has had one treatment with the cooling cap. The pilot treatment tests hair loss after four cycles of chemotherapy.
“When I was offered the cooling cap and to be part of the trial I was very happy to give it a go because I want to help provide results so it might be available for other women in the future," said Mrs Davies.
“It's a strange feeling having your head cooled down when the rest of your body remains at a normal temperature. My treatment goes for about six hours and I haven't found it too taxing to use."
Each year 151 patients with a new diagnosis of breast cancer are treated in the Orange and Bathurst cancer centres.
The media is invited to attend Ellen Davis' second cold cap session.
Where: Meet outside Orange Base Hospital
When: Friday 23 February at 10:30am
Available spokespeople: Ellen Davies, Susan Kuter and Dr Peter Fox.