The oncologists say that it is not inevitable that chemotherapy will lead to hair loss, but it is generally considered as one of the most common side-effects. You have to keep your head cool, literally, actually it should be icy cold. If you wear cold caps, you can keep your hair, as it was in the beginning, even after chemotherapy. In European countries, cancer patients have been using cooling cap for more than 15 years. According to the latest study, with the use of cooling cap, approximately 90% of hair loss can be minimized. Despite not being approved by the US FDA, it has taken a great U-turn with an even greater rate of success.
How Cooling Cap works?
Tessa Cigler, an oncologist at Weill Cornell Breast Center located in New York, commented, “Its exact working process has not been known yet.” She went on to saying that among many hypotheses regarding its mechanism, ‘I am going to explain the most accepted one.’ The cold cap therapy takes in the specially designed caps are filled with a gel-like material having the temperature of -30oC or -22oF. After cooling, the breast cancer patients wear these caps before, during, and after each session of the chemotherapy. During the chemotherapy session, you have to change the caps after every 30mins. These cooling caps lead to vasoconstriction of the blood vessels near the scalp. This means that if you wear the cold caps rightly, it will have the temperature that is required to prevent the chemotherapy medications reaching the hair follicles by reducing the blood flow to the scalp.
Is it really effective?
In 2005, Grevelman and Breed said that the Scalp Cooling Therapy works fine for some patients, but not on all. Patients who are at the I or II stage of breast cancer are most eligible to wear such caps to get the desired result. If a breast cancer patient is undergoing high dose of chemotherapy for several days, then he/she could not stop CIA or chemotherapy induced alopecia just by having cold cap therapy. Moreover, it is not effective on patients suffering from leukemia, melanoma, and non-Hodgkins.
As per UpToDate review, published in 2013 on CIA stated that although scalp cooling caps can prevent the hair loss to a great degree, yet it should not be practiced widely. In support of this statement, it further said that the hair loss due to chemotherapy is temporary. The patient will get bach his/her lost hair after the completion of the chemotherapy session.
Hence, the bottom line is that the patients who want to use it should realize the need of further researches and advancements in it. Without these, there will always some risk factors. Regarding the safety measures, numerous doctors have a hypothetical concern that the cells of cancer have percolated to the scalp can protect it from the bad effects of chemotherapy with the use of the cooling caps. However, instead of taking the decision of yourself, its better to seek the advice from your oncologist regarding its use.