Oncology unit offering the first hair loss prevention system

St John of God Bendigo Hospital’s Oncology unit now have the first chemotherapy scalp cooling cap available to patients in the Bendigo region.

6 Dec 2017



This means patients currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments are being given a 75 per cent chance of keeping their hair, thanks to the generous donation from the Valkyrie Group.  More importantly, as the first place to offer this in the region, it also means patients no longer have to travel to Melbourne to use this system while undergoing chemotherapy.

 Oncologist Dr Sam Harris said that this will be a huge benefit to his patients.

“Previously many patients were choosing to have chemotherapy treatment in Melbourne because of the availability of scalp cooling. They were having to do more travel, more often, whilst feeling unwell on chemotherapy,” said Dr Harris.

Claire Pysing, Oncology Nurse Unit Manager at St John of God Bendigo Hospital, knows just how concerning the side effects of chemotherapy can be for her patients.

“Chemotherapy can sometime result in hair loss, which can be really distressing for patients, particularly women, whilst undergoing treatment.  It is reported to be the single most distressing side effect of chemotherapy,” said Mrs. Pysing.

The scalp cooling acts by lowering the temperature of the scalp and reducing the blood flow and the metabolism of the chemotherapy.  As a result, the hair is not damaged by the chemotherapy treatment and is less likely to fall out.

The scalp cooling machine is designed to circulate the fluid in the cooling cap using refrigeration.

“We place the cap on the patient’s head prior to chemotherapy and the cap then stays on for the duration of the treatment and for a period afterwards," she said.

“It’s wonderful to be able to offer this to our patients and to the Bendigo community. It means that patients are now able to have their treatment closer to home, here at St John of God Bendigo, rather than travelling to Melbourne.”

The “cooling caps” come in five sizes and are currently being offered to breast cancer patients to be used during chemotherapy treatments.

Research has shown that the cap is successful for around 75% of patients, resulting in either no or only some hair loss.

Thanks to the generosity of the Valkyrie Group we were able to purchase the machine for our patients.

St John of God Bendigo Oncology unit look forward to providing this service to patients in Bendigo and surrounding regions. Patients can ask their GP for a referral to St John of God Bendigo Oncology. Oncologist can provide specific information on how the scalp cooling cap may be used as part of each patients treatment.