A Cardiff man, who founded The Red Sock Campaign to help raise awareness of prostate cancer, is using a pioneering treatment to help keep his hair during chemotherapy.
Over the last decade, Keith Cass has vigorously campaigned to raise awareness of prostate cancer to support men and their families living with the disease. This month, Keith is using the Paxman Scalp Cooler as part of his treatment at the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff to help retain his hair.
“My family have always had a good head of hair even into their 80’s – my silver hair says so much about who I am and I just don’t want to lose it,” said Keith.
“When someone describes me, they will automatically describe my hair. That’s why I want to keep it, as much as I can! Scalp cooling also helps divert some of my attention from the chemotherapy and gives me something else to focus on.”
Hair loss is a well-known side effect of many chemotherapy regimens, with many men and women reporting it to be the most traumatic aspect of their treatment.
Scalp cooling provides an alternative to hair loss, resulting in a high level of retention or even complete hair preservation, improving patients’ self-confidence and creating positive attitudes towards treatment.
Scalp cooling works by lowering scalp temperature before, during and after the administration of chemotherapy. Liquid coolant passes through the cap extracting heat from the patient’s scalp, ensuring the scalp remains at an even, constant temperature to minimise hair loss. It is available at 95% of hospitals across the UK.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK with more than 35,000 men each year diagnosed, and over 12000 men each year dying from the disease – 1000 men a month. This figure has recently overtaken breast cancer to make prostate cancer the biggest cancer killer.
In 2007, Keith set up The Red Sock Campaign is to help men understand more about the risks and benefits of being tested for prostate cancer. All of Keith’s knowledge has been drawn from his own experience of living with incurable prostate cancer. In 2013 he was awarded a MBE for the work he had done to support those affected by the disease.
“Imagine three jumbo jets full of men crashing every month. That is what prostate cancer is doing to men in the UK and sadly there are no symptoms. It’s important that information and advice is shared so men know what treatments and support is available to them.”
Stuart Rowling, sales and training executive at Paxman, said the company is noticing an increase in the number of men who are choosing to use scalp cooling, with some hospitals treating more men than women.
“Hair loss is such as a personal thing and people, whether they are a man or a woman, will have strong reasons to why they want to keep their hair. We are noticing an increase in male scalp cooling and that’s why it is so important to raise awareness of the treatment, so men everywhere know it’s available to them.”
Paxman will be attending a study day at the British Association of Urological Nurses in collaboration with Prostate Cancer UK to raise awareness of male scalp cooling. The programme, which is taking place on Wednesday 9 May 2018 in Manchester, has been designed for urology professionals to update on areas such as treatments and side effects.