Cooler heads prevail

New cooling cap helps breast cancer patients keep hair

Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy and typically associated with significant distress and concern. This often-dreaded, emotionally charged outcome is no longer a forgone conclusion thanks to new system called DigniCap, which uses advanced technology and a patented tight-fitting cap to cool the patient’s scalp.

Norton Cancer Institute is the first cancer care provider in Kentucky to offer patients this innovative treatment option approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To date, Norton Healthcare is the only health system within a region that includes Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Southern Ohio and West Virginia to offer the DigniCap system.

Joseph Flynn, D.O., MPH, executive director and physician-in-chief, Norton Cancer Institute, explains that many of today’s powerful chemotherapy treatments continue to cause extensive hair loss. He said this loss can be emotionally devastating for patients.

“Saving your hair takes a back seat to saving your life, but think about what it means to breast cancer patients if you can do both,” Dr. Flynn said. “Offering patients the option to save their hair reflects our focus on compassionate care for the body, and the person within.”

Currently, DigniCap is the only treatment approved by the FDA for use in preventing chemotherapy-related alopecia or hair loss in breast cancer patients. While the system may ultimately be approved for use as part of treatment for various types of cancer, at this time Norton Cancer Institute is offering it only for breast cancer patients, as approved by the FDA.

The scalp cooling system features a patented tight-fitting silicone cooling cap that is placed directly on a patient’s head during chemotherapy. An outer neoprene cap is used to insulate and secure the silicone cap. The cap is connected to a cooling and control unit with touchscreen prompts. A liquid coolant delivers consistent, controlled cooling to all areas of the scalp as it circulates throughout the silicone cap. As the temperature of the scalp is lowered, blood vessels narrow. This reduces delivery of chemotherapy to the scalp and lessens cellular uptake of drugs, thereby reducing the risk of hair loss.

DigniCap is the only system to offer gradual cool down and effective scalp cooling at temperatures above freezing for greater patient comfort. Two built-in cap sensors continuously monitor scalp temperature and allow the system to maintain optimal cooling throughout treatment. A third built-in safety sensor ensures the cooling temperature on the scalp never drops below the freezing point (32° F).

The DigniCap scalp cooling system is made by Dignitana. The FDA approved use of the system in the United States in 2015. The technology has been used for more than a decade by thousands of patients throughout the world. No scalp cooling system can guarantee results; most patients still lose at least a small amount of their hair even when scalp cooling is used.

To learn more about Norton Cancer Institute, visit

To learn more about the DigniCap scalp cooling system, visit

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