Local breast cancer patient undergoes ‘cold cap’ treatment to prevent hair loss

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 2:38 PM CDT
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BARTLETT, Tenn. (WMC) - Each time Jeannie Smeltser arrives at to Baptist Cancer Center in Barlett, she goes through the process of wetting her hair.

“You have to get your hair really, really wet,” she said.

Jeannie was diagnosed with breast cancer in May.

As she undergoes chemotherapy, she is also receiving cold cap therapy to prevent hair loss.

“I’ve heard people say that’s the most devastating part to them as a female - that their hair starts falling out and they go bald,” she said, “So, I thought, ‘Well, it would be great if I could keep my hair, keep some of it and not go through that devastation. Just to help myself feel better’.”

Baptist Cancer Center’s Chief of Medical Oncology Dr. Philip Lammers says cold cap treatment is available to cancer patients at all their clinics.

“Patients get hooked up to a machine that ends up pumping in cold water and cold temperatures to their scalp,” said Dr. Lammers.

Once Jeannie wets her hair, her husband and a team of nurses help her put the cap on that will cool her scalp. The cap stays on for about an hour and a half as she receives her chemotherapy treatment.

Dr. Lammers says cold cap therapy isn’t for every patient.

“There are certain types of chemotherapy that we offer this with. Not every chemotherapy causes patients to lose hair. So, it’s important that patients talk to their doctors,” he said.

Jeannie has several more rounds of chemotherapy.

So far, she is pleased the results from cold cap therapy.

“People don’t look at me and go ‘Oh you’re a cancer patient.’ It’s like I’m just going on with life, getting treated, and keeping things as normal as possible,” she said.

Dr. Lammers says the therapy has been proven to work on all hair types.

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