Cooling Caps Reduce Hair Loss In Women Undergoing Chemotherapy Treatment

Claudette Foreman a research coordinator at Baylor College of Medicine demonstrates the Paxman cooling device. Some women reported chills headaches and nausea when using the device

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Tuesday's studies focused on women with breast cancer and whether using cooling caps can prevent hair loss. The researchers clarifies that there will still be hair loss, even while using the cooling caps.

But cooling caps haven't been extensively studied in the USA, and womens' experiences with the caps have been hit or miss. So far, only DigniCap has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration - Paxman is still pending clearance. It found 12 per cent of patients who had scalp cooling had no hair loss, 23 per cent had minimal hair loss and 65 per cent had moderate hair loss.

Despite this, one of the American studies reported this week in JAMA is now tracking its participants for five years to monitor them for cancer recurrence, including in their scalps.

"These devices do prevent hair loss in some women, but it's very much operator-dependent and chemotherapy-dependent", Lichtenfeld said.

However, the trial was halted after data came in for the first 142 patients and it became clear that cooling had a significant effect in slowing or stopping hair loss, Nangia said. The average cost is $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the number of chemotherapy cycles.

For women especially, the loss of those thick locks of attractive hair come as quite a shock.

In the JAMA paper, 122 women with stage 1or stage 2 breast cancer were studied - all received non-anthracycline adjuvant chemotherapy, which generally causes severe hair loss. A handful of women using the cap reported mild headaches and only three dropped out due to feeling cold. Before their chemotherapy treatment, these patients wear the cap for 30 minutes, during the treatment and 90-120 minutes after it ended. She is an assistant professor and breast cancer expert with the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Of those who underwent scalp cooling, 66.3% retained half or more of their hair, said the authors, led by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco. Secondary endpoints included whether patients in the cooling arm required use of a wig or scarf and overall quality of life, as scored by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire - Core 30, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and a summary scale of the Body Image Scale.

The treatment is believed to lessen hair loss because it reduces the delivery of chemotherapy to the scalp and hair follicle. Located in the heart of the Upper East Side's scientific corridor, Weill Cornell Medicine's powerful network of collaborators extends to its parent university Cornell University; to Qatar, where an worldwide campus offers a USA medical degree; and to programs in Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey.

Scientists developed cooling caps for breast cancer patients.

There were no serious side effects related to either cooler. Both received funding from the makers of the cooling devices used in each study, Paxman Coolers of England and Dignitana of Sweden, respectively. In both cases, the researchers were free to publish results they deemed appropriate.

The devices work like refrigerators by sending fluid into a special helmet to cool the scalp before, during and after chemotherapy treatments.

"These techniques are relatively new", he says, and "breast cancer is a disease that can take a long time before it comes back and if one is to be 100 percent certain then you need a long period of time to answer the question".

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