Pioneering scalp cooling treatment, which stops hair loss during chemotherapy, could be offered for free to youth cancer patients. This forms part of a new campaign launched by the Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust (LCYCT) and treatment provider Paxman.

The two organisations, based in Huddersfield, have together launched a new Teenage Young Adult (TYA) which allows the UK’s 28 specialist cancer units access to scalp cooling treatment.

Cancer is the most common cause of non-accidental death in teenagers and young adults in the UK. Every single day in the UK, 7 young people aged between 13 and 24 will be told that they have cancer.

Despite 98 per cent of UK adult cancer units already having scalp cooling machines, young people aged between 13 and 24 currently cannot use the ground-breaking treatment. Youth patients are treated on separate TYA units and, currently, it is not beneficial for the units to purchase their own permanent system because not all young people receiving chemotherapy will be applicable to use the treatment. Eligibility for scalp treatment often depends on the type of cancer a patient has – only those being treated for solid tumour cancers such as breast, cervical or testicular cancer can use it.

Sadly, this means there is a group of young adults at each of the TYA sites each month that are not able to scalp cooling treatment. They have no choice but to lose their hair during chemotherapy treatment – a reality that both The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust and Paxman desperately want to change.

Going forward, whenever a teenager or young adult is eligible for scalp cooling, Paxman will provide a concierge service direct to their TYA unit. This service will be provided completely free of charge with no financial nor administrative burden to either the patient or the NHS.

Clinical staff will be given comprehensive training, so they know exactly how to use the Paxman Scalp Cooling System, including cap fitting and efficacy to help get the best possible results. A selection of caps will be provided to act as a sizing kit to measure what size cap each patient needs.

Helen Mervill from The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust said: “Young people tell us regularly how devastating it is for them to lose their hair during chemo as it is an external sign to their friends, family and the outside world that they are ill.”

The Paxman Scalp Cooling System (also known as the ‘cold cap’) alleviates the damage caused to the hair follicle by chemotherapy. It works by reducing the temperature of the scalp by a few degrees immediately before, during and after the administration of chemotherapy.

Made from lightweight silicone, the scalp cooling cap is soft and flexible – providing a snug, yet comfortable fit during treatment, moulding to all head shapes and sizes. Liquid coolant passes through the cap, extracting heat from the young person’s scalp, ensuring it remains at an even, constant temperature to minimise hair loss.  

Claire Paxman, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Paxman first developed the technology when her mother, Sue Paxman, experienced first-hand the trauma of chemotherapy-induced hair loss. “As a family we want to do everything possible to ensure everyone – whatever age they are – has access to scalp cooling and this scheme. It is amazing to be able to work with Laura Crane on this project and make scalp cooling a reality for young people in the UK. It’s our way of giving something back to the community.”