An improved scalp cooling cap worn during chemotherapy can help those with cancer avoid hair loss during their treatment. The new ChemoHairSaver has been developed by Dutch couple Arie and Caroline van Wijngaarden after Caroline was herself treated for breast cancer.
Their patented invention is applauded by oncologists, hospitals, researchers and other cancer organisations in the Netherlands.The invention is nominated to win the Ureka Mega Challenge Award of the University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMCU). With the 75,000 euro award, scientific tests, research and further development of the innovative cap can be funded.
Hair loss makes chemotherapy emotionally hard and is worldwide named as the fourth most upsetting feature of treatment. Some hospitals use a synthetic cooling cap to cool the scalp during the chemotherapy, allowing patients to keep most of their hair. Caroline experienced this herself when she was treated for breast cancer last year. “But the current cap that is being used is a half round ball, does not cover the entire head, feels annoying and is not efficient enough, because it only works in 50 percent of the cases,” she says.
Her husband Arie is an industrial designer, responsible for numerous inventions in the automotive and pharmaceutical industry. Encouraged by their own experiences together they developed an improved version of the cooling cap.
Their cap is flexible and fits better on the head, giving more comfort. Sensors in eight different sections measure and adjust the temperature continually, which leads to an optimal scalp cooling. That’s why the couple expects the cap to be effective in 70 percent of cases. “This invention can benefit a lot of patients in the whole world,” they say.
The world’s largest manufacturer of cooling caps is interested in the ChemoHairSaver. Medical specialists expect the new cap to improve the results of scalp cooling. “We need these kinds of innovations to improve the care for people with cancer,” professor. Dr. Ir. J.J.M. van der Hoeven of the LUMC Leiden says.
“This will improve the quality of life of patients,” researcher Dr. Corina van den Hurk of the Eindhoven cancer centre IKZ says.