Scalp cooler reduces hair loss in chemotherapy

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Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy may not have to suffer hair loss anymore, thanks to a ‘cooling cap’ technology.

Chemotherapy drugs are designed to attack rapidly dividing cells, and as both cancer cells and hair cells divide rapidly, chemotherapy can cause damage to hair cells, which leads to hair loss.

A cooling cap system was developed by scientists at Baylor College of Medicine. The system can lower the scalp temperature to about 66 degrees Fahrenheit. The low temperature constricts the blood vessels and reduces blood flow to the area by up to 40 percent. Less blood flow to the scalp means fewer chemotherapy drugs can attack the hair cells.

“Hair loss takes a tremendous toll on the patient’s body image, and they no longer have the anonymity of hiding the disease; everyone can see that they’re sick,” Dr. Julie Nangia, assistant professor in the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine said in a press release.

Researchers say the cooling caps should work on patients with solid tumors, but will not work for patients with leukemia or blood cancers.

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