August 01, 2018

Cold cap therapy reduces hair loss from chemotherapy

A known and often unwelcome side effect of chemotherapy for cancer treatment is hair loss. However, two recent studies have found that use of a scalp-cooling device — sometimes referred to as a cooling cap or cold cap therapy — may significantly reduce this effect.

Both studies were published in the Feb. 14, 2017, issue of JAMA. The studies followed women undergoing treatment for early-stage breast cancer. In each study, one group of women was assigned to cold cap therapy 30 minutes before and during each chemotherapy session, as well as for 90 to 120 minutes after each session. The remaining women did not use cold cap therapy during their chemotherapy sessions. The studies produced similar results.

Among those who used the cap, 66 percent of the women in one study and 50 percent of the women in the other study maintained at least half of their hair. Among participants in the studies who didn't use the caps, none maintained half of their hair.

A scalp cooling device

A scalp cooling device — sometimes referred to as cold cap therapy or cooling caps — may significantly reduce hair loss that results from chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy works by killing rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells. But chemotherapy can't differentiate between cancer cells and healthy cells that divide quickly, including those responsible for growing hair (follicles). When chemotherapy attacks the hair follicles, it causes hair to fall out. In fact, most chemotherapy regimens used to treat...