Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care


New device preventing hair loss in cancer patients on the Sunshine Coast

Oct 29, 2019

Cancer patients now have access to a scalp-cooling device at Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital, which may help to reduce hair loss during chemotherapy treatment. 

The technology reduces the flow of chemotherapy drugs to the scalp area, decreasing hairlessness in up to 80% of patients.

Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital CEO Oliver Steele said: “Our first patient has completed her initial eight-week chemotherapy cycle using the scalp-cooling machine, and that particular patient has been fortunate to retain her hair.”

Patients are fitted with a specialised cooling cap half an hour before their chemotherapy infusion starts and they keep it on 90 minutes after it is finished.

The cap immediately reduces the temperature of the scalp by a few degrees, which cuts blood flow to the hair follicles, preserving the hair.

Medical oncologist, Dr Michelle Morris, said: “It gives patients a better self-image and a better sense of normality, so particularly for patients who still want to work throughout their treatment, it means they can do so without feeling self-conscious.”

The treatment has only become widely available in Australia in the past three years, and significant developments have been made to ensure more comfort for patients.

“We were aware of patients travelling interstate to access scalp-cooling, so we wanted to give them more options closer to home,” Mr Steele said.

Most cancer patients are able to access the scalp-cooling technology, but it has shown to have particular success with women and men diagnosed with breast cancer.

“The drugs used to treat breast cancer patients universally cause hair loss and the scalp- cooling is particularly effective in reducing the amount of hair loss,” Dr Morris said.

Two patients can use the scalp-cooling machine at any one time. The machine adds to the wide range of surgical services currently available at Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital’s oncology unit.