Cancer patients in the northern suburbs are benefiting from a new machine and therapy available at the Northern Adelaide Cancer Centre at Lyell McEwin Hospital, which reduces hair loss associated with chemotherapy by using scalp cooling.

A $30,000 grant from The Hospital Research Foundation through generous donations from Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s northern branches, contributed to the $45,000 state-of-the-art Paxman scalp cooling system.

Head of the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network Medical Oncology Unit, Dr Jacqui Adams, said while being diagnosed with cancer is traumatic enough in itself, hair loss, particularly for a woman, is a distressing side effect of treatment.

“Scalp cooling or cold caps are proven to help patients to retain their hair with most chemotherapy regimens, which can boost their self-confidence and help maintain a positive attitude to treatment,” Dr Adams said.

The scalp cooling system includes a small refrigeration unit that circulates a coolant at minus 4 degrees Celsius through to a specially designed cooling cap.

The cap slows down the patient’s blood flow by cooling their scalp, which restricts the amount of hair loss that most chemotherapy drugs cause.

Cancer patient Leigh Clifton said the thought of losing her hair was a daunting aspect of the illness.

“I was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer and when I learned chemotherapy would be part of my treatment, losing my hair was just another fear I had to deal with,” Ms Clifton said.

“The opportunity to access scalp cooling helped me to cope and I’m happy to say while having my treatment I’ve had minimal hair loss.”

The centre is a one-stop shop for cancer patients in the northern suburbs, offering multidisciplinary management of a wide range of cancers through medical oncology, radiation oncology, haematology, allied health, palliative care, around the clock phone support, clinical trials and telemedicine facilities.

The Northern Adelaide Cancer Centre services northern metropolitan Adelaide along with the Gawler, Barossa, Yorke Peninsula, Mid North and Riverland regions, with more than 600 chemotherapy treatments administered each month.