Calvary Mater Newcastle’s medical oncology team and patients recently welcomed the Board of the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation to take look at a new technique which will see the hospital’s cancer patients stop losing their hair through chemotherapy treatment.
A new scalp cooling technology has recently been funded by the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation ($55,000) to ensure that public patients being treated at the hospital have access to the same innovations and benefits as they would in the private hospital sector.
Scalp cooling provides the only real alternative to hair loss when a patient is undergoing cancer treatment but until now has not been available to public patients receiving chemotherapy in the Hunter region.
Calvary Mater Newcastle CEO Greg Flint said they are the main centre for cancer care and they continue to aim to be at the forefront with both their treatment and their support services to the region’s cancer patients.
“We are very fortunate that we have a supportive local organisation that understands our needs as a cancer hospital to have the very latest access to new innovations to help patients through what is often a very difficult time.”
Newcastle Permanent Board Chairman Michael Slater said for some patients this is often one of the most distressing side effects of cancer treatment and can lead to depression and loss of self-esteem.
“The Charitable Foundation is very pleased to provide funding for such an innovative piece of equipment that is set to benefit many people from the Hunter and those from regional communities which come to the Mater for treatment,” Michael said.
“The Charitable Foundation is focused on supporting organisations like Calvary Mater
Newcastle for projects which improve the health and wellbeing of people in need in our community and we hope the new technology delivers real benefits to people getting treatment at the leading cancer hospital in our region”,.”
Currently, very few hospitals in Australia offer scalp cooling (local hospital Newcastle Private is another), although it is widely available in the UK and in Europe. Although scalp cooling has been available for over 40 years, its use has been limited.
Recent advances in technology have led to improved success in preventing hair loss associated with chemotherapy. The latest innovation uses a small, refrigerated cooling system to pump a liquid coolant through a light silicone cap that the patient wears during treatment to extract heat from the scalp. Scalp cooling works by lowering the temperature of the head and scalp immediately before, after and during the administration of chemotherapy thereby leading to reduced blood flow to the hair follicles making the hair less vulnerable to the damage of chemotherapy meaning that hair loss is not always inevitable.
With 195 beds and supported by an emergency department and intensive care unit, Calvary Mater Newcastle is the Hunter region's major centre for oncology (cancer) services, haematology, clinical toxicology and research. The hospital is also home to the Newcastle Melanoma Unit and BreastScreen NSW Hunter New England, and has a stroke service which provides a seamless care approach to stroke treatment and assessment of patients.
Calvary Mater Newcastle is a teaching hospital in affiliation with many teaching institutions and is fully accredited by the Australian Council on Health Care Standards.