Published: Fri, February 17, 2017
Health | By Bessie Ortiz

Scalp Cooling Caps May Prevent Hair Loss In Women Having Chemotherapy

Scalp Cooling Caps May Prevent Hair Loss In Women Having Chemotherapy

New studies have proved that these cooling caps are indeed revolutionary. Paxman, the maker of the cooling cap system and funding organization for the study, has filed for FDA clearance and we are hopeful for a positive response.

The Journal of the American Medical Association released two studies on Tuesday that showed cooling a scalp before, during and after chemo treatment helped women keep their hair.

We have good medications to prevent or lessen numerous side effects of chemotherapy, but none for hair loss.

"Whether you're a mom with young children, a teacher in a classroom or a corporate lawyer, the visible part of the chemo experience has really been that hair loss", he told Reuters Health. When long-term safety data showed that this scenario was exceedingly rare, it opened the opportunity for scalp cooling to be studied here in the U.S.

As mentioned before, one reason why these caps are not popular is the fact that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) thinks that they are ineffective and might not be safe for cancer patients.

"Hair loss takes a tremendous toll on the patient's body image and they no longer have the anonymity of hiding the disease; everyone can see that they're sick", said Dr. Julie Nangia, assistant professor and breast cancer expert at Baylor College of Medicine.

The second study, conducted at five USA medical centers and led by Dr. Hope Rugo from the University of California, San Francisco, involved 101 breast cancer patients fitted with a cooling cap and 16 patients in a control group. The women wore the cooling cap 30 minutes before their treatment and 90 to 120 minutes after. The DigniCap is set to cool at 3 degrees Celsius with a temperature variance of plus or minus 2 degrees.

But Hershman cautions that more study is needed to determine whether there is psychological benefit in using the caps to prevent hair loss. Additionally, three of five quality-of-life measures were significantly better for the women who underwent scalp-cooling, including feeling more physically attractive. A handful of women using the cap reported mild headaches and only three dropped out due to feeling cold.

According to FOX NEWS, cooling caps named DigniCap and Paxman Scalp Cooling System can help breast cancer patients to lessen hair loss. Hair loss was assessed by a healthcare worker.

Unlike Rugo's study, Nangia's team included women who received anthracycline-based chemotherapy, in which hair loss is less likely to be inhibited by cooling caps.

But cooling caps haven't been extensively studied in the USA, and womens' experiences with the caps have been hit or miss. As the technology becomes more widely available and used, we anticipate the success rate could be even higher as best practices for cap fit and application are established. Again, all patients without the cap lost their hair, while hair loss was limited or halted in those who used the scalp cooling cap.

"I would say that most women would have some thinning of up to 30 percent of their hair", said Nangia.

In the DigniCap study, 67 of 106 women (66.3 percent) lost less than half their hair after four rounds of taxane chemotherapy.

Scalp cooling devices now cost between $1,500 and $3,000 per patient in the United States, and aren't reimbursed by health insurance, Nangia's study noted. And according to NPR, there is a theoretical risk that reducing the effect of chemotherapy in the scalp could allow metastases.

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