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First Minnesota Patient to Receive Groundbreaking Therapy at Mayo Clinic

March 26, 2018 08:12 PM

(ABC 6 News)—For many women going through chemotherapy, it can be devastating losing their hair. Now, breast cancer patients at Mayo Clinic in Rochester can have hope in keeping their hair during treatment.

"Feeling very, very sad and depressed that I have to lose my hair, as well," said Joanna Mankowski.

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Joanna was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and while taking on the fight of her life, as a woman, the thought of possibly losing her breasts and her hair was a lot to take on.

"To be able to preserve one's identity and sense of beauty through something that can be so life-altering is just an incredible benefit," said Tufia Haddad, M.D., associate professor of oncology at Mayo Clinic.

The therapy is called scalp cooling. It's a cap that cools the patient's scalp to around 64 degrees before, during and for a period of time after chemotherapy. The cool temperature helps decrease the amount of chemotherapy that makes its way to the hair follicles and overall lessening hair loss.

"I don't have a lot of hair, but I have like kind of medium hair so hopefully I can still manage to not look sick when I go out," said Joanna.

This treatment has been used at Mayo Clinics in Arizona and Florida for a few months. Joanna is the first patient in Minnesota to try it and Mayo Clinic is the first site in Minnesota to offer scalp cooling for women with breast cancer going through chemotherapy.

"Looking at the clinical trials approximately 50 percent, up to about 65 percent of patients are able to retain 50 percent or more of their hair. This is really to the point that they don't feel that they need to wear a wig or a scarf to cover up that hair loss," said Haddad.

"Right away my mood lifted. Maybe not worth it, but to me, it is because I have a daughter, who is 17, I don't want to look sick in front of her. Also for me, seeing myself in the mirror or seeing me sick."

The goal is to have scalp cooling FDA approved for the treatment of all cancers in the future. 

Credits

Marissa Collins

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