Scalp cooling can help breast cancer patients retain hair

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New studies have proved that these cooling caps are indeed revolutionary.

How does the cooling cap work? Yet by cooling the scalp, the blood flow to the region is reduced thereby mitigating any chemotherapeutic agents that reach the scalp.

While cancer treatment will never be free of side effects, keeping their hair can make it less stressful for women.

"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.

Scalp cooling caps are not so popular in the US only because the device has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For the new studies, one team of researchers led by Dr. Hope Rugo of the University of California, San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and another team led by Dr. Julie Nangia of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston tested the effectiveness of two different cooling caps. Breast cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the second most common cancer among women in the United States behind skin cancer.

The DigniCap system uses a double cap fitted to the scalp 30 minutes before an infusion, which keeps the scalp at 37 degrees Fahrenheit, plus or minus 2 degrees, during the session.

Pictures were taken of participants' scalps and hair over the course of their treatments.

The primary objective of the trial was to determine the safety and efficacy of the scalp cooling device in reducing hair loss in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

In both the studies it was found that nearly 50 percent of the patients retained at least half of their hair compared to those who weren't using cooling caps. In addition, three of five quality of life measures were significantly better for women who underwent scalp-cooling, including feeling more physically attractive. "Everyone who didn't have the device lost their hair".

Hair loss is a dreaded side effect of chemotherapy for women. The miraculous method is a cooling device for the scalp. Hair loss was assessed by a healthcare worker.

On the other hand, Nangia's team tested on 142 women in seven medical centers that are randomly assigned at Paxman Scalp Cooling System. However, DigniCap, a kind of a cooling cap has recently received FDA approval and can be used in USA during chemotherapy. The researchers clarifies that there will still be hair loss, even while using the cooling caps.

"I would say that most women would have some thinning of up to 30 percent of their hair", said Nangia. But, there are worries that cancer might reappear in a woman's scalp years after treatment, said Lichtenfeld and Dr. Richard Bleicher, breast clinical service line leader with Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. As of now, the cap's cost may not be reimbursed by health insurance and would almost cost between $1,500 to $3,000 per patient.

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.