By LAURAN NEERGAARD 07/22/13 02:22 PM
WASHINGTON — Hair loss is one of chemotherapy's most despised side effects, not because of vanity but because it fuels stigma_revealing to the world an illness that many would rather keep private.
Now U.S. researchers are about to put an experimental hair-preserving treatment to a rigorous test: To see if strapping on a cap so cold it numbs the scalp during chemotherapy really works well enough to be used widely in this country, as it is in Europe and Canada.
The first time Miriam Lipton had breast cancer, her thick locks fell out two weeks after starting chemotherapy. But when the disease struck again, she used a cold cap during treatment and kept much of her hair, making her fight for survival seem a bit easier.
"I didn't necessarily want to walk around the grocery store answering questions about my cancer," recalled Lipton, 45, of San Francisco. "If you look OK on the outside, it can help you feel, `OK, this is manageable, I can get through this.'"