Chemotherapy-induced hair loss is distressing for many women undergoing adjuvant therapy for breast cancer. Scalp cooling to reduce, or hopefully prevent, hair loss has been used around the world but has not been utilized as frequently in the US. It’s postulated that cooling the scalp during chemotherapy administration causes cutaneous vasoconstriction, which in turn reduces blood flow to hair follicles and cellular uptake of the chemotherapy.
US researchers conducted a multicenter randomized controlled prospective trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the Orbis Paxman Hair Loss Prevention System (OPHLPS) in reducing chemotherapy-induced alopecia (of note, some of the researchers had financial relationships with this company). Women with stage I/II breast cancer scheduled to receive neoadjuvant or adjuvant anthracycline- or taxane-based chemotherapy for at least 4 cycles were eligible to participate in the study. Participants were randomized in a 2:1 ratio to scalp cooling or no cooling. Scalp cooling was done using the OPHLPS 30 minutes prior to, during, and 90 minutes after each chemotherapy treatment.
At the time of the interim analysis, which were presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in December 2016, 95 women in the cooling group and 47 women in the usual care group (no cooling) completed 4 cycles of chemotherapy. About half of the patients in the cooling group, (n = 48; 50.5%) preserved their hair, whereas none of the 47 patients in the no-cooling group had hair preservation.
Researchers concluded that scalp cooling using OPHLP is effective in hair preservation and should become available for patients who receive chemotherapy for early breast cancer. Find more on the study here