Groundbreaking device helps reduce hair loss during chemotherapy

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Device Helps Reduce Hair Loss During Chemotherapy

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (KSTU) -- Breast cancer patients at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center will officially have access to groundbreaking technology.

The health system is the first medical center in the United States to offer the FDA-cleared DigniCap scalp cooling system to patients undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.

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Cancer survivor Cheryl Cook was thrilled when she heard the update.

"I've been waiting for this news," she said.

Five years ago, Cook participated in a clinical trial for the DigniCap scalp cooling system.

She learned about the study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center after researching ways to keep her hair on the Internet.

"What bothered me about losing my hair was people associate [it with] being sick, you're not well. They know you're going through something very serious," she said.

Cook would not have to be concerned about any obvious signs she was dealing with cancer.

"As it turned out, I kept my hair. It thinned some, but I was probably the only one that noticed," she said.

The system works by reducing the temperature of the scalp -- constricting the blood vessels with reduced delivery of chemotherapy to the scalp.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center conducted the initial feasibility study in 2010 and went on to participate in the FDA trial getting strong results.

"They were very promising. Almost three-quarters of patients had success with the cap," Dr. Susan Melin, associate professor of hematology and oncology and principal investigator of the clinical trials at Wake Forest Baptist, said.

"To keep your hair during chemo is a big statement," Cook said.

Patients will begin using the device at Wake Forest Baptist this week.

The DigniCap cooling system is FDA cleared for female breast cancer patients at any stage -- any regimen.

The system has been available in Europe, Asia and Australia prior to the U.S. FDA approval.

It's manufactured by Dignitana, a Swedish public company based in Lund.

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