Hair Loss from Chemotherapy
Hair loss from chemotherapy is one of the most distressing side effects. There has been a lot of research looking into how to prevent hair loss from chemotherapy - or what is called "chemotherapy induced alopecia." A research group for Korea recently looked at every single study that has been published so far - in order to get a better sense of what works best.
So - what works best to prevent hair loss from chemotherapy?
Scalp cooling by far.
In order to come to this conclusion, the authors looked at nearly 700 articles, of which a total of 8 randomized controlled trials and 9 controlled clinical trials involving about 1100 participants were reviewed. Scalp cooling came out as the most effective. Other treatments like scalp compression, a combination of cooling and compression, topical minoxidil, and Panicum miliaceum didn't seem to help much (or not at all).
What is scalp cooling?
Scalp cooling (also called scalp hypothermia) is a new treatment option that is being explored. Cooling the scalp reduces the amount of chemotherapy to the scalp. The technique is used in Canada (by some hospitals) and Europe but not in the USA. It is currently undergoing study in the US and may be approved in the USA in the near future. The two scalp cooling agents to be on the lookout for are the Penguin Cold Cap and Dignicap.
Shin et al. Efficacy of Interventions for Prevention of Chemotherapy-induced alopecia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Int J Cancer. 2014 Aug 1. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29115. [Epub ahead of print]
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299