Most cancer patients receiving chemotherapy have to deal with hair loss, though the amount may vary between individuals. While some will lose everything from eyebrows to leg hair, others will only go bald.
Losing head hair is often particularly distressing, perhaps because it is the most personal and difficult loss to disguise. Therefore the news that clinical trials of a ‘cooling cap’ used during chemotherapy sessions appears to successfully reduce or halt hair loss brings new hope to cancer sufferers.
This exciting news comes just one year after the cooling cap system was approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
95 breast cancer patients took part in the clinical trial to test the cooling cap. After four cycles of chemo treatment, half of the 95 patients involved still had a decent amount of hair compared to the half who didn’t use a cap, none of whom had kept any hair at all. The former group’s participants were assessed by independent judges on the basis of their hair looking normal, and having no need of any type of hair piece to disguise loss.
How the Cap Works
Hair is very vulnerable during chemotherapy, largely because hair and cancer cells share a common behaviour – they both divide rapidly, and it is fast dividing cells which the chemo is designed to locate and kill. Worn for several hours at a time, the cooling cap helps hair to avoid this fate by reducing the amount of the chemotherapy drugs that actually reach the follicles.
With the scalp cooled to 66 degrees Fahrenheit, blood vessels constrict and the blood flow drops by between 20 and 40 percent. This means that less of the blood-borne drugs reach hair follicles, and the risk of hair loss is significantly reduced.
In the wake of this trial’s success there will inevitably be a lot of call for this ground breaking treatment, with hospitals expected to urgently revise their clinical staffing needs with specialist agencies such as http://www.gandlscientific.com/clinical-staffing-solutions/.
The trial of the cooling cap is expected to continue, and be extended to cover patients having chemotherapy treatment for other tumour-based cancers. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the treatment it is not viable for patients with cancers such as leukaemia.