Chill caps may help patients undergoing chemo keep hair - WSMV News 4

Chill caps may help patients undergoing chemo keep hair

Posted: Updated: Apr 05, 2016 03:38 PM
Cancer patients in Europe have used the chill caps for 20 years. (WSMV) Cancer patients in Europe have used the chill caps for 20 years. (WSMV)

A product used in Europe for decades is helping cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy keep their hair.

It worked so well for a Franklin woman battling cancer that she is starting a business helping others.

In August 2014, 37-year-old Lindsay King had a routine mammogram. The divorced mother of four was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“The first thing that came to mind was, am I going to die?” King said. “The second thing was, am I going to lose my hair? With my four young children, that was the first thing they asked me.

“When you don’t have hair, you look sick,” King added.

King started to research custom wings when she stumbled upon something better.

“I came across an acquaintance who had used a chill cap, a cold cap, and it saved her hair,” she said. “So I thought I’d give it a try.”

Used in Europe for 20 years, the gel-filled caps work by freezing the capillaries in the scalp during chemotherapy infusions.

King placed an order.

“It was a huge leap of faith,” she said.

King said the results were astounding.

“I had some thinning, but no hair loss whatsoever,” she said.

King’s longtime friend Betsy Wynn was often at her side for doctors’ appointments. She said a few months in, people noticed King still had a full head of hair.

“No one believed that I had just finished chemo and still had my hair,” King said.

“The other patients sitting there with no hair, just looking at her,” Wynn said. “It’s a puzzled look, because how did she do that?”

A set of six caps are kept frozen in a cooler that patients bring to chemotherapy infusions. Every 30 minutes, they put on a fresh chill cap. They are also worn for a set time before and after treatments.

“It freezes the capillaries in the skin, in the scalp,” Wynn said. “When it freezes the capillaries, it constricts the blood vessels. And the hair follicle constricts and the chemo drug can’t get into the hair follicle and kill the hair follicle, which makes the hair fall out.”

King’s results were so compelling that the two Franklin mothers wanted to tell the world.

“The doctors and nurses were amazed. Everybody was so fascinated,” Wynn said. “We said, ‘Why don’t we let this be known? Let’s start this. Let’s tell people about it.’”

They found an investor and launched their company, ChillCAP. They already have several patients and have partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

King and Wynn said they hope to help as many people as possible.

“It’s for men, women, all kinds of cancer, all ages,” King said. “We’re here to help.”

Patients pay a monthly fee of $350 to lease a set of six chill caps. The caps are shipped to patients’ homes and returned after their last treatment.

There are currently two studies underway. So far, most women have kept most of their hair.

The chill caps have not yet been approved by the FDA, but if and when they are, King and Wynn said insurance is likely to cover the chill caps.

The cap is 30 to 37 degrees below zero when it is placed on the head. Patients report feeling “brain freeze” for about five minutes.

Cold cap therapy is recommended only for non-scalp-related cancers. It is not recommended for leukemia, lymphomas, melanoma or brain cancers.

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