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New Device Could Help Stop Hair Loss During Chemotherapy

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DALLAS (CBSMiami) – For breast cancer patients the diagnosis alone can be devastating. Then comes the worry of hair loss during treatment. But new devices are hitting the market that could help.

Karen Dicken was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy.

Like many women, the thought of losing her hair during treatment was traumatic.

"I just knew going forward that was going to be something hard for me. I'd always had blonde hair and thick," she said.

Doctors at Baylor Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas told her about a new experimental scalp cooling device that could prevent hair loss.

For 12 weeks, Karen wore the cap before chemo for 30 minutes, during treatment and then for an hour after.

"It was very cold. It was almost like a brain freeze when they put that cap on me," she said.

"You can sort of tailor it to the individual patient," said Dr. John Pippen.

Pippen says the cap cools the scalp to about 24 degrees Fahrenheit, reducing blood flow.

"The follicles gets chilled and it slows everything down," he explained, "and keeps the chemo out of there."

A new study presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium shows the device prevented hair loss in over half the patients who used it.

Dicken only lost about 5 percent of her hair.

"To be able to go through that process and keeping my hair kept me positive," she said. "That's what pushed me through."

The maker of the device is filing for FDA clearance.

There is one other similar device already on the market.

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