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Scalp Cooling Device Prevents Hair Loss In Chemotherapy Patients

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A system hat cools the scalp of breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy has helped prevent hair loss, researchers say.

Dr. Julie Rani Nangia of Baylor College of Medicine in Texas and lead author on the study, said,

Scalp cooling devices are highly effective and should become available to women with breast cancer receiving chemotherapy.

She further explained at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium that scalp-cooling technology lowers scalp temperature, which in turn reduces the blood flow to air follicles, Fox News reports.

The Scalp Cooling Alopecia Prevention (SCALP) Trial had 235 women across seven medical centers in the USA. All the participants had stage 1 or 2 breast cancer, and were set to receive at least four chemotherapy sessions with taxane or anthracycline, both of which cause hair loss.

The women were randomly assigned to either the group with no scalp cooling, or the group with the Orbis Paxman Hair Loss Prevention System (OPHLPS), which is still experimental.

The technology has a “cold cap” that fits onto a person’s head during chemotherapy. For the study, cooling was done 30 minutes before, during and 90 minutes after treatments.

Based on the scalp-cooling device’s superior results, the research team’s safety monitors decided to halt the study and release the results, Nangia said. By then, 95 patients in the cooling group and 47 in the non-cooling group had finished four chemotherapy cycles. In the cooling group, 48 retained their hair, while none did in the non-cooling group.

There were mild side effects, including headache, nausea and dizziness, Nangnia said. Most of the patients ranked the cooling system as “reasonably comfortable and very few found the scalp cooling device uncomfortable.”

Paxman, the system’s manufacturer, is now asking for permission from the US Food and Drug Administration to market the device. Last year, a similar scalp-cooling system was approved by the FDA.

Nangnia said that the technology has been used for other cancers with solid tumors in other countries, although it is not recommended for blood cancers. Scalp cooling has been slower to make an impression in the USA, partly because of concerns regarding the spread of cancer to the scalp.

Dr. Kent Osborne, co-director of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, said, “We have tons of data from different trials looking at the site of first recurrence in patients with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer and I don’t think we found a single patient that recurred in the scalp only, ever.” He is also confident that this is not going to be an issue for the OPHLPS.

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