Hospitals in Galway ‘need cold caps to stop chemotherapy hair loss’
From this week's Galway City Tribune
Author: Stephen Corrigan
~ 3 minutes read
From this week's Galway City Tribune
Scalp-cooling technology which can prevent hair-loss in patients undergoing chemotherapy must be rolled out in Galway hospitals, according to a local senator.
Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly has, together with a number of party colleagues, put forward a motion to have the facility put in place for cancer patients nationwide, branding it ‘unfair’ that the treatment was only available in some parts of the country.
The former city councillor said there were currently only seven hospitals in Ireland where the service was available, but neither University Hospital Galway, nor Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, could offer scalp-cooling.
The equipment required was “relatively cheap”, she said, but it made a huge difference to patients who feared losing their hair while undergoing treatment for various forms of cancer.
“It is actually relatively cheap but unfortunately, like we see with other services, it is somewhat of a postcode lottery,” said Senator O’Reilly.
“I don’t see why it should be available in other places, like Dublin, but not in Galway,” she continued.
The city-based senator said undergoing chemotherapy was a significant challenge and research had shown that hair loss was “often cited as the most traumatic side-effect” for patients.
The use of a ‘cold cap’ could prevent hair loss and make things a little easier for those already dealing with the trauma of a cancer diagnosis, said Senator O’Reilly.
“It is the least we can do, to offer the service. It can’t be used in every particular case but people’s oncologist will know. And even the HSE’s guidance advises people to ask their oncologist about the service, so it should be available in Galway.”
She said on foot of the motion, she had received a response from the HSE which stated that it cost around €20,000 to procure one machine that could treat two people at a time.
“It is cheap and it doesn’t involve that much extra work for staff to place the cap on people while they’re in for treatment anyway – it is very difficult to understand why it’s not already in place,” said Senator O’Reilly.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly was supportive, she said, and she was hopeful it would be possible to have cold cap technology rolled out in Galway sooner rather than later.
“The Minister seems to be convinced so it is now a matter of convincing those who hold the purse strings that this is necessary,” said Senator O’Reilly.
“For many people – and women in particular – their hair is an important part of who they are and retaining it can help them retain their dignity during a very difficult time.
“When given the option, many people will choose to use the cold cap treatment and what we want is all hospitals who treat cancer to offer this service,” she added.
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