Scalp cooling for prevention of hair loss from chemotherapy

Before scalp cooling was approved for preventing hair loss during chemotherapy, concerns were raised as to whether the technique was safe. Specifically, cancer specialists wondered whether cooling of the scalp could allow cancer cells to hide out in the scalp and not be effectively killed by the chemotherapy. This could allow them to continue to grow and spread in the patient.

A 2015 helped answer the question as to whether scalp cooling is safe or not - and showed it was. Lemieux and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study of 1370 women with non-metatstatic breast cancer who received chemotherapy. Some women had received scalp cooling during their chemotherapy and some women did not. These women were followed for 6-8 years after their chemotherapy was finished to evaluated whether there were any changes in survival.

Fortunately, there were no differences in survival between women receiving or not receiving scalp cooling. These data were ultimately used to support the approval of scalp cooling for patients undergoing chemotherapy.


Lemieux et al. No effect of scalp cooling on survival among women with breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2015.

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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