Free of charge scalp cooling to teenagers and young adults

Two Huddersfield organisations are working together to ensure all UK teenagers and young adults are offered pioneering scalp cooling treatment – with no cost to the patient, hospital or Trust.

The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust (LCYCT) and scalp cooling pioneer Paxman have launched a new Teenage Young Adult (TYA) service which allows the UK’s 28 specialist units access to scalp cooling, a treatment which stops hair loss during chemotherapy. 

Despite 98% of UK adult cancer units already having scalp cooling machines, young people aged between 13 and 24 cannot use the ground-breaking treatment because they are treated on separate TYA units.

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, which depends on the type of cancer they have. Only those being treated for solid tumour cancers such as breast, cervical or testicular cancer are able to use it.

Sadly, this means there is a group of young adults at each of the TYA sites each month that are able to use the scalp cooling treatment but don’t have access to it. 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.

The system will then be delivered to the hospital, along with the patient’s bespoke cap in a personal Cap Kit Bag for them to use for the duration of their 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.

Helen Mervill from The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust said: “Young people tell us regularly how devasting 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. We have already carried out a scalp cooling trial using the Paxman Scalp Cooing System in young adult units in Sheffield, Liverpool and Leicester, which was extremely successful. The feedback we received from a lot of young people was they wanted to take back some control by having the choice to keep their hair.” 

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, said: “Our technology was developed when my mum, 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.”

The official launch took place at the Oastler Building, Huddersfield University, which was illuminated purple to mark the occasion.

The University carries out research for both Paxman and The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust, so was the ideal place to launch the new service.