Minimise Hair Loss During Chemotherapy with
Scalp Cooling Therapy
Hair loss (alopecia) is a more commonly experienced side effect of certain drugs used in cancer treatments. It is also one of the most traumatic consequences of undergoing chemotherapy. For many people, losing hair is a very public sign of their cancer diagnosis. A first-of-its-kind, Scalp Cooling (cold cap) Therapy available at Westside Haematology and Oncology Clinic is clinically proven to reduce and even prevent hair loss in patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
“Am I going to lose my hair?” is the question our cancer patients ask us most frequently. Until recently, chemotherapy-induced hair loss was poorly understood. Paxman, the global pioneer in Scalp Cooling, worked intensively to increase every patient’s chances of “zero hair loss” during chemotherapy.
Scalp Cooling Therapy by Paxman
The groundbreaking research of the Paxman Research and Innovation Centre has dramatically advanced our understanding of the relationship between hair loss and chemotherapy. A quarter of a century of research has shown that the damage to the hair follicle caused by chemotherapy drugs can be alleviated by reducing the temperature of the scalp.
Scalp Cooling also referred to as “Cold Cap Therapy”, is applied during chemotherapy treatments to reduce scalp hair loss. The cap is filled with a cold liquid to reduce the blood flow to the scalp. As a result, less of the chemotherapy drug can reach the scalp and damage hair follicles.
How successful is the treatment?
How Does Scalp Cooling Work?
The cold cap is applied before, during and up to two hours after chemotherapy to lower the temperature of the scalp to 20 degrees Celsius. As a result, chemotherapy drugs have a significantly reduced effect on hair follicles.
No Additional Cost to Our Patients
Westside Haematology and Oncology Clinic was one of the first clinics in Queensland to offer the clinically proven Scalp Cooling treatment by Paxman. We want to give patients as little more control over their lives and offer this hair loss prevention to eligible patients at no additional cost as part of their treatment plan.
Chemotherapy uses a range of drugs to destroy fast-growing and dividing cancer cells. Unlike radiation, which is highly targeted, chemotherapy flushes drugs throughout the entire body. As a result, chemotherapy drugs also affect the healthy cells of the skin, hair and intestines, leading to a range of side effects, including hair loss and discoloured nails.
Why is Scalp Cooling so Successful?
There are three medical rationales for the success of scalp cooling:
- A Significant Reduction of Blood Flow To The Scalp: The cold cap lowers the temperature of the scalp by a few degrees. Cooling the scalp creates vasoconstriction reducing the blood flow by up to 40 per cent. As a result, a much smaller amount of chemotherapy drugs are carried to the hair follicles, and a lower effective drug dose may enter the cells.
- Chemotherapy Drugs Bypass The Now Dormant Hair Follicles: As the temperature of the scalp is lowered, the metabolism-driven cell division slows down. This means fast-dividing hair follicle cells become dormant. Since chemotherapy drugs first and foremost target fast-dividing cells, they will bypass the now dormant hair follicles.
- The Cytotoxicity of Chemotherapy Drugs is Reduced: The hair cells’ slower metabolic activity causes a general reduction in the toxicity of the applied chemotherapeutic drugs (cytotoxicity) localised to the scalp.
Which Patients are Eligible for Scalp Cooling?
Scalp Cooling Therapy can only be used with certain types of cancer and chemotherapy drugs. The Scalp Cooling treatment can be used with solid tumours that are commonly treated with chemotherapy regimes for:
- Breast Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Colorectal Cancer
- Gynecological Cancer
The treatment cannot be used with haematological malignancies (cancers of the blood and blood-forming organs), cold allergy, cold agglutinins, scalp metastases and bone marrow ablation chemotherapy.
What are the Side Effects?
Scalp Cooling Therapy begins 30 minutes before the chemotherapy infusion, stays on during treatment, and 30-90 minutes after the chemotherapy is finished. In total, the Scalp Cooling treatment can take up to two and a half hours.
89 per cent of patients describe the therapy as acceptable, with minimal discomfort. 15 per cent of patients struggle with the coldness and 2 per cent of patients experience headaches during treatment.
Chemotherapy Without Scalp Cooling Therapy?
Without Cold Cap Therapy, hair loss may begin to occur two to three weeks after initial chemotherapy treatment. As the hair begins to fall out, the scalp may feel hot, itchy and tender to touch. Whilst some people do not experience any hair loss at all, others find that the skin on their head becomes very sensitive.
Once all chemotherapy treatments have been concluded, it can take up to 12 months to grow back a full head of hair, and it may grow back in a different colour or structure.
Questions About Scalp Cooling Therapy And Minimising Hair Loss?
Are you wondering whether Scalp Cooling Therapy is for you? Arrange a referral through your GP to see one of our Medical Oncologists. You can then discuss a tailored treatment plan and see if you’re eligible to use this treatment in hair loss prevention.
Westside Haematology and Oncology Clinic Medical Oncologists
Dr Paul Kalokerinos
Dr Paul Kalokerinos provides high-level, evidence-based cancer treatment to residents in the metro and wider Brisbane areas. He has broad experience in caring for patients with a wide range of cancer subtypes, both common and rare, and has been exposed to the most cutting-edge cancer treatments through his work with patients enrolled in clinical trials.
Dr Sam Jones
Dr Sam Jones has extensive experience managing all solid tumour types. His expertise involves the use of not just chemotherapy and hormone therapy, but a range of small targeted molecules, immunotherapy, and other new biological agents. Given the rapidly changing landscape of knowledge in cancer care, he is regularly attending conferences and staying up to date with the latest advances in treatments for cancer patients with all tumour sub-types.