Hair loss can be one of the most emotionally painful side effects of chemotherapy treatment. A solution may be on the horizon in the form of the "DigniCap," a device that uses a circulating cooling gel to preserve hair follicles and protect them from the amount of chemotherapy they absorb, according to MSNBC.com
Heather Millar is a 47 year-old San Francisco breast cancer patient who is one of four people in the United States currently testing the Swedish device. Millar still has most of her shoulder-length hair thanks to the "DigniCap" that uses extreme cold to constrict hair follicles to prevent hair loss.
Most patients begin to lose hair after their first chemotherapy treatment and it can be a psychologically devastating experience. Patients like Millar believe this kind of research could be invaluable in reducing the noticeable physical effects.
"I think if women knew about this there would be a total stampede," says Millar. In the future, the trials for the "DigniCap" could reach the 100-person mark required by the FDA for safety, but for now the device is mostly in an experimental stage.
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, excluding skin cancer.