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Cooling Caps Help Breast Cancer Patients Lessen Hair Loss In Chemotherapy

Update Date: Feb 15, 2017 07:53 PM EST
Cancer Treatment Center Offers Hope For Afflicted
FAYETTEVILLE, NC - JUNE 17: A breast cancer patient receives a chemotherapy drip at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center June 17, 2003 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Innovations in cancer treatment, such as more precise doses for chemotherapy drugs and high-tech radiation machines, are making the treatment of the disease more effective than ever. (Photo : Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Breast cancer is a well-known killer disease. In the U.S., about 40,610 women are expected to die from the disease. Breast cancer deaths rates are the second deadliest cancer killers behind lung cancer.  

Chemotherapy is one of the most common treatments for cancer. For breast cancer patients, its purpose is to prevent cancer from coming back after surgery, to kill cancer cells and to shrink a tumor before surgery. Some of its side effects include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, mouth soreness, fatigue and hair loss.

But two new studies show that cooling caps could lessen the hair loss of a breast cancer patient. According to FOX NEWS, cooling caps named DigniCap and Paxman Scalp Cooling System can help breast cancer patients to lessen hair loss.

For the two studies to become a reality, two teams were formed. The first team was led by Dr. Hope Rugo of the University of California and the other team was spearheaded by Dr. Julie Nangia of the Baylor College of Medicine.

Rugo's team tested device called DigniCap on 122 women being treated for breast cancer stage one or two at five medical centers. Before their chemotherapy treatment, these patients wear the cap for 30 minutes, during the treatment and 90-120 minutes after it ended.

Four weeks after their treatment, researchers found out that 66 percent of these patients estimated that they'd lose less than half of their hair. It also shows that women who use the cooling caps had a better quality of life.

On the other hand, Nangia's team tested on 142 women in seven medical centers that are randomly assigned at Paxman Scalp Cooling System. The result is that 50 percent of these women retained more than half of their hair.

Researchers in both of those studies stated that the scalp-cooling technique is far better for patients who are receiving chemotherapy that do not include a drug called anthracycline. Scalp cooling is only done for patients with solid tumors. This method may not be suitable for patients with blood cancers.

The breast cancer patients could inquire about cooling caps. And DigniCap is cleared to be marketed in the U.S. by the FDA. But the cooling device is not covered by insurance. Therefore, patient could pay around $1,000 to $2,000 per session.

And chilling the scalp may carry some risks. And according to NPR, there is a theoretical risk that reducing the effect of chemotherapy in the scalp could allow metastases.

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