We are fundraising for two scalp coolers for 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. 

We have so purchased scalp coolers for LMCC, but in order to give the option to everyone who wants it, we need another two. This 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 cooler costs £11,000.

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, which patients use before and after their chemotherapy drugs are given. These systems work by reducing the blood flow to the scalp, stopping the chemotherapy drug from affecting hair.

Scalp cooling is not suitable for all patients undergoing chemotherapy and does not always work, but it does provide some immediate benefits to our patients, regardless of the outcome, including a feeling of hope and a feeling of control. Studies have shown they can be effective, with a 2017 research study showing that more than 50% of a group of breast cancer patients who received scalp cooling during their chemo treatment kept most or all of their hair.

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.