New treatment could prevent hair loss during chemotherapy

CLEVELAND CLINIC – Hair loss is one of the top concerns for women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. When a woman loses her hair during chemo, it can be constant reminder of the cancer and often causes anxiety and depression.

Now, research presented shows a special “cooling” cap may help some women undergoing treatment for early stage breast cancer keep their hair.

Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Jame Abraham co-authored the study and says the findings are significant.

“In patients who used this cap, there is about a fifty percent reduction in hair loss,” says Dr. Abraham.

Researchers studied 182 women undergoing chemotherapy for early stage breast cancer at seven sites across the U.S.

The women were split into two groups: one group used the cooling cap and the other group did not.

Results show that 50 percent of women who used the cooling cap kept their hair, while women who didn’t use the cap lost their hair.

In addition, the study shows that women who kept their hair fared better emotionally. Authors also note that the cap was more effective with certain chemo regimens.

The cooling cap is a helmet-like device that cools the scalp to thirty-six-degrees and is worn before, during and after chemotherapy treatment.
Researchers believe the intense cold potentially constricts blood vessels in the scalp, which is thought to be the key to preventing hair loss during chemo.

“That leads to decrease blood flow to the hair follicles and potentially that will cause less chemotherapy into the hair follicle area and prevent hair loss,” explains Dr. Abraham.

Dr. Abraham says women in the trial will be followed for five years to study the long-term impact of the cooling cap.

The cooling cap is not currently FDA approved but the authors plan to submit the research to the FDA for review.


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