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FDA-Cleared Cooling Cap Minimizes Hair Loss During Chemotherapy

By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) - There's a way for breast cancer patients to undergo chemotherapy and keep their hair. It's the first FDA-FDA-cleared scalp cooling system that minimizes hair loss.

It's called DigniCap, "Digni" for dignity. That's what the bathing cap-like device offers; dignity through a frightening treatment that is out of your control.

"Chemo, I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy," said 65-year-old Lynn Padgett.

Lynn Padgett wearing the DigniCap (credit: CBS)

But chemotherapy is fighting Padgett's breast cancer and Padgett is fighting chemo's side effects.

"Kathy, I was supposed to be bald my twelfth day of treatment," Padgett told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

But 10 days into chemotherapy, Padgett still had hair. And after three treatments in five weeks, she still had hair.

"I could choose to keep my hair and it's been very empowering," Padgett said.

Lynn Padgett (credit: CBS)

New technology at the UCHealth Lone Tree Breast Center gave Padgett that choice. It's DigniCap; computer-controlled scalp cooling. Coolant, that never drops below the freezing point, circulates through the cap constricting the blood vessels.

"Then the chemotherapy is not going to those hair follicles and we're actually able to preserve the hair," said oncologist Dr. Regina Brown, Medical Director of Oncology at UCHealth Lone Tree Health Center.

For Padgett, it was the one thing she could control.

"I didn't want sad eyes. I didn't want people going 'Oh look, something's wrong with her, she doesn't have any hair,'" said Padgett.

CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh interviews Lynn Padgett (credit: CBS)

Now at treatment number 14, Padgett hasn't kept all of her hair, but thanks to DigniCap, she's never lost it all.

"To have hair on my head, it just brings a smile to my face every day," said Padgett.

DigniCap can cost hundreds of dollars a treatment. Patients should ask if their insurance covers it. At UCHealth, the goal is to get the cost to $25 each time.

Some of the funds raised from Men for the Cure are being used to make that happen.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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