Like so many other patients who have been diagnosed with solid tumors, one of the side effects of treatment that people who have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma dread most is the loss of their hair following chemotherapy treatment.
Though they may have more pressing and existential issues to address, losing their hair removes their sense of normalcy, and announces to the world that they are ill. Now, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced its approval of the Paxman Scalp Cooling System, a medical device that dramatically reduces the likelihood of chemotherapy-related hair loss for patients with solid tumors.
The Paxman Scalp Cooling System was created in the United Kingdom for use in patients with solid tumors such as breast and ovarian cancer, colorectal and prostate cancer, and mesothelioma.
It is shaped much like a hat and placed on patient’s heads, where it uses cold temperatures to constrict the blood vessels. This process essentially blocks chemotherapeutic drugs from reaching hair follicles where they have historically killed healthy cells, leading to hair loss.
“This is another step forward in making cancer therapy more personalized and putting the patients in the driver’s seat as we create more options and pathways as patients,” Debu Tripathy, M.D. and professor of Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston said.
Improving the quality of life for patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma is an important goal, and the Paxman Scalp Cooling System represents a small step that is likely to make a big impact.
“If you can take away the most feared side effect of chemotherapy, you’re changing a patient’s journey,” said Nancy Marshall, founder of the Rapunzel Project, an organization that worked to spread awareness of the benefits of cooling caps.
“If you can go through your illness with a relative amount of looking normal, you maintain privacy,” she said. “If you have your privacy, you can choose who you want in the circle of people who know and people who support you.”
There are currently over 200 of the systems in place in hospitals in the United States, and dozens more are on order for delivery in the near future.
People with mesothelioma deserve the comfort and support of those around them, and hospitals and other advocacy groups are working to provide that. If you need information about the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.FREE Mesothelioma Packet