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Bye, Hair Loss! Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy Could Now Preserve Their Hair

Dec 12, 2016 04:49 AM EST

The positive effects of the so-called cooling cap for cancer patients who wants to preserve their hair during chemotherapy have showed up once again in the clinical trial of a new cooling cap system being reviewed by the Food and Drugs Administration.

The clinical trial, presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, showed that wearing the cooling cap before, during and after chemotherapy sessions could greatly reduce the risk of hair loss.

Like cancer cells, hair cells divide rapidly. Due to this, chemotherapy, which attacks rapidly dividing cancer cells, also attacks the hair cells, causing alopecia.

"Hair is important, especially to women. Hair loss can really affect how a patient feels," said Dr Julie Rani Nangia, assistant professor of medicine at the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center in Houston and lead researcher of the trial, in a report from Daily Mail. 'If you have a heart attack, you won't look different, but if you have cancer and lose your hair, everyone knows what you are going through. Some people embrace it, but for others, having something so private made public is embarrassing."

For the trial, the researchers recruited 182 early-stage breast cancer patients who were due to undergo chemotherapy. The participants were divided into two groups. The first group was asked to wear the Paxman Scalp Cooling System 30 minutes before their chemo session, during the chemotherapy and 90 minutes after. On the other hand, the second group served as the control and did not experience the cooling cap.

Among the participants in the first group, about 50.5 percent retained considerable amount of their hair. Meanwhile, all the participants in the control group experienced significant hair loss.

The researchers noted that the cooling effects of the cap cooling systems caused the blood vessels to constrict, reducing the circulation of blood to the area. Because chemotherapy drugs travel through the bloodstream, restricting the blood flow in the scalp could mean lesser chemo drugs attacking the hair cells.

Despite the positive effects of the cooling cap, the researchers noted that it should never be used in patients with blood cancers, such as leukemia, due to its ability to constrict blood vessels.

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