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Menorah Medical shows off 'cool' new way to help Kansas City cancer patients

Posted: 4:21 PM, Feb 01, 2017
Updated: 2017-02-02 18:14:37-05

While many women would be concerned about the highlights of gray hair, Marilyn Scherer embraces her salt and pepper roots.

"That's the good thing," she said. "I got to keep my hair. I didn't look sick and I didn't feel sick."

That's because while Scherer was diagnosed with cancer in July, began chemotherapy in August and completed treatment in December, she still has nearly all of her hair due to a new medical technology.

"You immediately think, 'oh gosh, am I going to die?' That's what everyone thinks when you hear cancer," said Scherer. "Then you think, 'oh wow, am I going to have to do chemo?' You worry. And you know if you do chemo, are you going to lose your hair? That's awful. It was devastating for me."

Menorah Medical Center is the only cancer treatment center in Kansas City with the Dignicap , a medical device that preserves a cancer patient's hair by cooling the scalp during chemotherapy.

"When you cool the scalp there is less blood flow to the scalp," explained Menorah Medical Center breast medical oncologist Dr. Stephanie Graff. "Less blood flow means the chemo that is going into your veins isn't circulating to high concentrations in the scalp and the hair follicles don't have that cell turn over and trauma that they would otherwise have."

While losing one's hair is minor compared to losing one's life, Dignicap allows cancer patients to focus on treatment instead of its side effects.

"When I look in the mirror every day, I want to see me," said Scherer. "I don't want to be reminded that I have breast cancer. That was one of the biggest things. And even when I am done with my treatment, my hair would still be growing in so it would be quite a ways before I would look normal again in my eyes."
 
Insurance does not yet cover Dignicap treatment so it costs patients who want to use it about $275 per application. Menorah medical Center said it is working with insurance companies to find a way to get the treatment covered for patients.
 
Right now, Dignicap is only cleared by the FDA for preserving hair during chemotherapy for breast cancer patients, but doctors believe the treatment would work for anyone with any kind of cancer who is undergoing chemotherapy.

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Terra Hall can be reached at  terra.hall@kshb.com.

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