We are fundraising for scalp coolers and cold caps at Lister Macmillan Cancer Centre. The Centre sees 7,000 patients with cancer each year. We want to do all we can to ensure the experience is as positive as possible. 

Scalp cooling is a service which is above and beyond the obligation of the NHS and as such we cannot purchase these without donations from the local community. Each scalp cooler costs £11,000, with each cold cap costing £400.

What is scalp cooling

Chemotherapy works by targeting all rapidly dividing cells in the body. Hair is the second fastest dividing cell and this is the reason why many chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss. Hair follicles in their growth phase are attacked, resulting in hair loss approximately 2 weeks after beginning chemotherapy treatment. Scalp cooling can sometimes reduce or prevent hair loss caused by chemotherapy.

Our project

We are fundraising for scalp cooling systems and cold caps.  Scalp cooling can help to prevent the hair loss caused by chemotherapy by reducing the blood flow to your scalp, which stops the chemotherapy drug from affecting your hair. Prior to receiving the chemotherapy drug, the scalp cooling system is attached to a cold cap which placed on the head. The machine reduces the temperature of the scalp, restricting the amount of blood reaching the hair follicles. This protects the hair follicles from the effects of the chemotherapy drugs carried in the blood stream and increases the chance of retaining the hair.

The cold caps are the hats that the patients wear, which are connected to the scalp cooling system, so they work together. We require new cold caps as we need them in all different sizes to fit people’s heads, and of course over time we need new ones to replenish our current cold caps. Without the cold caps we can’t perform scalp cooling so they are imperative to the system.

The benefit to our patients

Women and men rate hair loss as one of the most distressing adverse effects of chemotherapy. The opportunity to use scalp cooling, which is only able to offer thanks to generous donations from the local community, means that we immediately offer hope to our patients. By offering this piece of equipment we are able to provide our patients with the opportunity to regain some control and also encourage a positive attitude towards treatment. Some patients prefer not to identify as ‘having cancer’ and the opportunity of keeping their hair means that they will be able to be more private about their treatment.

Statistics can only demonstrate so much. They can give the number of people who are battling this disease and the number of those who keep their hair. However, they cannot describe the huge range of responses and reactions that people will experience, which is why we are committed to doing all we can to provide equipment like scalp coolers, which can make the experience easier.