Scalp Cooling Therapy, a treatment shown to greatly reduce hair loss for many chemotherapy patients, is now available at Mayo Clinic Health System Cancer Centers in Mankato and New Prague. The treatment will be available in Fairmont when the Lutz Cancer Center opens this summer.

Hair loss is one of the common side effects of chemotherapy, which often is prescribed to treat many forms of cancer. Losing one’s hair can greatly contribute to a patient’s stress and anxiety. However, Scalp Cooling Therapy is helping many patients keep most of their hair.

“Hair loss may seem like a small price to pay for the chemotherapy that works to prevent cancer from coming back. But for many patients it’s tough on their self-image, and it’s a constant reminder of the disease,” says Amrit Singh, M.B.B.S., Mayo Clinic Health System oncologist. “Scalp Cooling Therapy helps to protect a patient’s privacy and can improve a patient’s self-esteem and attitude toward treatment.”

Chemotherapy works by targeting all rapidly dividing cells in the body, including hair follicles, resulting in hair loss about two weeks after the start of chemotherapy. Scalp cooling reduces the damage that chemotherapy causes to hair follicles. When cooled, the blood vessels in the scalp constrict, reducing blood flow to the hair follicles. That means less chemotherapy medication can get into the hair follicle cells.

Scalp Cooling Therapy involves the use of FDA-approved cooling caps that have cold liquid circulating through them and that are connected to a computer that maintains the temperature of the cap at around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. These caps also have a covering that keeps them in place and helps to keep the temperature constant.