Women prevent hair loss during chemotherapy with the help of devices that cools the scalp. Cooling may reduce the chemical activities by constricting blood vessels in the scalp. Cooling caps are comparably new to the US, but are established in other countries. One thing that hinders the use of cooling caps in the US is the lack of approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA doubts its safety and effectiveness.
A group of researchers tested a device called DigniCap on 122 women that are being treated for stage one and two breast cancer at five medical centers. The women wore the cooling cap 30 minutes before their treatment and 90 to 120 minutes after. The scalp temperature was maintained at three degrees Celsius during treatment.
Over the course of their treatment, researchers took pictures of the participants’ scalp and hair. The women determined their hair loss based on the photos. About 66 percent of the women estimated they lost less than half of their hair. This was after four weeks of their last chemotherapy treatment.
According to the NPR, the results also suggest that those who use the cooling cap had a better quality of life. Few of the women that used the cooling caps reported mild headaches. And three of them dropped out due to feeling cold. The team reported that 142 women that were randomly assigned to no scalp cooling while receiving their chemotherapy treatment.
According to the Fox, after four chemotherapy treatments, about 51 percent of the patients were able to keep most of their hair compared to patients who did not use the cooling caps. Differences in the results of different medical centers were due to the improper fittings of the cooling caps. The researchers clarifies that there will still be hair loss, even while using the cooling caps. There are chances that the cooling caps will lessen the hair loss but not totally prevent it.