Follow Us:      
Call (866) 471-8869

Call (866) 471-8869 for FREE Consultation

Home > Articles > Cold Cap Therapy: Reducing Chemotherapy Hair Loss

Cold Cap Therapy: Reducing Chemotherapy Hair Loss

For cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, one of the most traumatic aspects of the treatment is often the hair loss that results. To help patients maintain their hair and their dignity during cancer treatment, cold cap therapy was developed. These chilled hats are worn before, during and after chemotherapy to help patients prevent hair loss that is a common side effect of chemotherapy medications. HairLossSpecialists has the lowdown on how these caps work and whether they really are effective in helping cancer patients keep their natural head of hair throughout their treatment protocol.

What is Cold Cap Therapy?
Cold cap therapy has been used widely in Europe for some time, but is a relative newcomer to the United States. However, more and more cancer patients are learning about this type of hair loss prevention, and many are trying out the method with great success. The Penguin Cold Cap is a British-made product that is worn snugly around the scalp before, during and after chemotherapy treatments. Prior to wearing, the caps are chilled to a precise -22? Fahrenheit, and then worn in 30-minute increments for up to seven hours at a stretch. Some patients will use up to 15 caps in a single session, since the cap will only maintain its temperature for a single 30-minute session.

How does it Work?
While researchers are still unsure of the specific reasons the cold cap therapy prevents hair loss, the primary theory is that by cooling the scalp, the blood vessels surrounding the hair roots contract. When this occurs, the amount of chemotherapy medication reaching the hair follicles is severely limited, so the follicles do not react to the medication in the same way. Because the follicles are protected from the medications, hair loss is less likely to occur.

Despite the anecdotal success of these cooling caps, no formal clinical studies have been done in the United States to prove the effectiveness of this hair loss method. However, doctors who have seen the caps work with some of their cancer patients are becoming more open to the idea of recommending cold cap therapy as a part of chemotherapy treatment. Studies are also getting underway in this country, with one particularly large study currently taking place at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Another will soon be taking place at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Who is a Candidate for Cold Cap Therapy?
Because the methodology is still fairly new, doctors are concerned about using cold cap therapy on all cancer patients. The treatment appears to work best on breast cancer patients who have the complete tumor surgically removed and require chemotherapy as a preventative measure. Patients who have blood-born cancers, or other cancers that could metastasize in the brain, should not consider cold cap therapy, due to the fact that limiting chemotherapy medication to this area of the body could make it easier for the cancer to metastasize at a later date.

It is also important to note that the caps can be expensive and they don't work for every cancer patient. Caps can run as much as $30 apiece, and some patients may need up to 15 per chemotherapy treatment. However, many women who have used the caps have found the cost to be well worth the money, when they have been able to keep their hair throughout chemotherapy.

Cold cap therapy also does not work on every patient. Initial studies show the caps help anywhere between 70 and 90 percent of patients keep their hair. The therapy may work better with some medications than others, with some of the best results seen in combination with Docetaxel, Epirubicin, Paclitaxel and Cyclophosphamide. Your doctor can help you determine whether cold cap therapy might be a safe and effective choice for you.

Call 866-471-8869 for FREE Consultation