Keeping a cool head during cancer treatment

Cancer patients in Whyalla are now benefiting from scalp cooling technology that reduces hair loss associated with chemotherapy thanks to donations from local fundraising groups.

Country Health SA Clinical Director Cancer Services and Consultant Medical Oncologist, Professor Sankha Mitra, said hair loss can be a distressing side effect of cancer treatment for people who are already going through a difficult time.

“Scalp cooling or cold caps help patients to retain their hair with most moderate complexity chemotherapy treatments, which can boost self-confidence and encourage a positive attitude towards treatment,” Professor Mitra said.

“The system has a small refrigeration unit that circulates a coolant at minus four degrees Celsius through to a specially designed cap, which slows down the patient’s blood flow to the scalp and decreases the amount of hair loss that most chemotherapy drugs cause.

“Having this scalp cooling technology in Whyalla means cancer patients who may have chosen to travel to Adelaide will now be able to use the cooling caps closer to home.

“I am a strong advocate for this technology and I am very pleased donations from the community have assisted in getting this fantastic equipment for the hospital.”

Director of Nursing at Whyalla Hospital, Julie Marron, said they are grateful to the local fundraising groups for raising money to purchase a double cooling cap system that allows two patients to be treated at once.

“Whyalla Pink Spirits donated $20,000 towards the cooling cap system, with some of those funds raised by a generous chemotherapy patient, Sharon Powell, who wanted to assist others through their challenging experience,” Ms Marron said.

“The Whyalla Ladies Auxiliary donated $10,000, the Mount Laura Lions Club donated $3,000, and the Lions Club of Whyalla donated $2,000.

“There was also a combination of donations from the local community, patients and cancer service staff through the hospital’s chemotherapy donations fund.

“It is wonderful to see the community come together to help purchase important equipment that can help chemotherapy patients retain their hair through an already difficult time.”

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