HAIR LOSS could be a thing of the past for cancer patients at Armidale Hospital.
A Paxman scalp cooling unit that combats chemotherapy-induced hair loss has been donated by the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation.
Cancer Council community engagement coordinator Paul Hobson said the hospital had approached him after hearing about success at the Mater Hospital in Newcastle.
“It’s actually quite vital to the emotional wellbeing and mental health of the cancer patient, hair loss can have a significant impact on that during treatment,” he said.
“With the rest of their worlds being turned upside down, undergoing treatment and the affect it has on family and work – to actually have a little bit of self-esteem and to maintain that dignity in keeping hair it does provide them with an extremely important emotional boost.
“It’s something that really can’t be overestimated as to the emotional wellbeing of the patient.”
The unit will allow two patients to be treated at once and full training will be provided to hospital staff.
The cooling cap works by lowering the temperature of the scalp to below 22 degrees, reducing blood flow to the scalp to preserve hair follicles.
The cost of the unit is $49,300.
“Another major issue with cancer treatment is that for many years the services have only been available in capital cities,” Mr Hobson said.
“To actually now have the facility in Armidale it gives people the opportunity to have their general treatments in their home town.
“It means these particular technologies are there for the local community without the time and distance required to travel,” Mr Hobson said.
The success rate of the cooling cap depends on the form of chemotherapy the patient receives, but has shown to completely preserve hair or result in a high level of retention.
The unit is expected to be installed in July, and will be offered to cancer patients at the oncology unit dependent on the type of treatment they are receiving.