Cold Cap Therapy to Prevent Hair Loss
One of the most well-known side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss. Fortunately, if you are a breast cancer patient at the Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute, you may be able to keep most of your hair during certain chemotherapy treatments, due to cold cap therapy.
While almost everyone who receives chemotherapy will experience some hair loss, cold cap therapy has been shown to greatly reduce hair loss in breast cancer patients.
In one clinical trial, only 33.7 percent of women who received cold cap therapy lost more than half of their hair, while 100 percent of women lost more than half their hair when not using cold cap therapy.
What is Cold Cap Therapy?
Chemotherapy affects both healthy and cancerous cells in the body that are growing or dividing. Because hair cells are fast-growing, they are more likely to be targeted by chemotherapy.
Cold cap therapy can reduce hair loss because it cools the scalp, which reduces blood flow to the area. With less blood flow to the scalp, less chemotherapy medicine reaches the hair cells, which reduces hair loss.
How does Cold Cap Therapy Work?
If you and your doctor determine cold cap therapy is right for you, you will wear a snug-fitting, silicone cap during chemotherapy treatments. The cap comes in several sizes for optimal fit and is designed to comfortably fit your head and around your ears.
The cap is first placed on your head at room temperature 30 minutes before chemotherapy begins, then gradually cools the scalp during treatment. The cap always remains above freezing and can be easily disconnected if you need to take a short break during chemotherapy. Once your chemotherapy session is complete, the cap will remain on for two to three hours depending on your drug regimen.
Is Cold Cap Therapy Safe?
Cold cap therapy has been safely used by thousands of breast cancer patients like you and is FDA-cleared. In clinical studies, most patients had only minimal side effects. These included:
- Minor scalp pain
- Mild to moderate headache
Theoretically, scalp cooling could prevent chemotherapy from targeting cancer cells in the scalp area. However, it is rare for breast cancer to spread (metastasize) to the scalp area and research hasn’t shown a connection between scalp cooling therapy and scalp metastases.
Talk to Your Doctor About Cold Cap Therapy
Talk to your oncologist to see if cold cap therapy is right for you. Patients with certain types of cancer or those undergoing certain forms of chemotherapy may not be candidates for cold cap therapy.
To learn more, call 1-855-DNA-GIBBS (362-4422) or talk to your oncologist.