In a nutshell
This study aimed to find out how common persistent hair loss (alopecia) is after breast cancer chemotherapy, and how to prevent it. The authors found that persistent alopecia was present in all forms of chemotherapy but was worse with docetaxel (Taxotere) and could be prevented by using a scalp cooling technique.
Alopecia (hair loss) is a common side-effect of chemotherapy, which can be very upsetting to patients. This can last a long time after chemotherapy has finished. There is some evidence that suggests that cooling the scalp with a hypothermic cap might help prevent alopecia.
Methods & findings
To find out how common this was, 492 patients who undertook docetaxel chemotherapy were interviewed and their levels of alopecia were graded. A second study was undertaken where patients who received docetaxel had a frozen hypothermic cap placed on their head before every chemotherapy round.
Small amounts of persistent alopecia were found in all the patients undertaking chemotherapy. Grade 2 persistent alopecia (requiring a wig) was found in 5-12% of patients. The higher the dose of docetaxel, the more likely the patient was to have grade 2 alopecia.
The authors discovered that eight years after treatment only one out of 120 patients had grade one alopecia (partial hair loss). No cases of grade 2 alopecia were found.
The bottom line
This study concluded that alopecia is common in breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy especially in those treated with docetaxel. Using a scalp cooling treatment was found to be an effective way to prevent this alopecia from occurring.
The fine print
This study was quite small but did have highly significant results. There do not seem to be any negatives to the scalp cooling treatment.
If you are about to undergo chemotherapy for breast cancer, it may be worth talking to your doctor about scalp cooling to prevent alopecia.
Published By :
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment
Jun 19, 2018
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