HealthDay News — According to a study presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, cooling the scalp with a specialized cap during chemotherapy sessions could help breast cancer patients avoid treatment-related hair loss.

Julie Rani Nangia, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues enrolled 235 women with stage 1 or stage 2 breast cancer who were planning to receive at least 4 cycles of anthracycline- or taxane-based chemotherapy. 

Participants were split into 2 groups. One group included two-thirds of the women. This group received scalp cooling. The other third received no cooling.

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After 4 cycles of chemotherapy, 50.5% of patients in the cooling group experienced hair preservation, compared with none in the non-cooling group, the study findings showed.

Fitted to a patient’s head, the cold caps were in place 30 minutes before chemotherapy began, for the entire chemotherapy session, and for 90 minutes after chemotherapy, Nangia explained.

The cold cap cooled patients’ scalps to 64 degrees, she told HealthDay, and side effects were mild, including headache and discomfort. “The big downside is it adds an hour onto [total] chemotherapy time,” Nangia said.

The study was funded by the manufacturer of the cold caps, Paxman Cooling.


Scalp-Cooling System Reduced Hair Loss in Many Breast Cancer Patients Receiving Chemotherapy [press release]. San Antonio, TX: American Association for Cancer Research; December 9, 2016.

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