Hair loss can have a devastating impact on body image, sexuality and self esteem, especially because of its frequent association with cancer treatment. 47% of women patients consider hair loss the most traumatic aspect of chemotherapy, and 8% stated they would refuse the treatment to avoid losing their hair.
Fortunately, the branch of US Oncology Research based in Woodland Texas and the Baylor College of Medicine recently launched a clinical trial to combat chemotherapy-related hair loss.
The clinical trial is titled “Scalp Cooling Alopecia Prevention Trial,” or SCALP. As the name indicates, the trial will study an existing scalp-cooling system in the hopes of using it to reduce or completely stop hair loss during chemotherapy.
The Orbis Paxman Hair Loss Prevention System involves placing a light silicone cap on the patient’s head for about 30 minutes before and 90 minutes after each chemotherapy session. The soft cap is connected to a refrigeration structure which circulates a special coolant and lowers the scalp temperature.
The cold constricts the blood vessels in the scalp, reducing damage to the cells that line hair roots. The cooling system is already in use in Europe, Canada and Australia, and the promising data indicates that 50-75% of patients don’t experience alopecia when the system is employed.
The current clinical trial aims to test the safety and effectiveness of scalp-cooling for women with breast cancer who are receiving adjuvant or neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Investigators hope that the study will give medical professionals access to more data so they can decide if the system is a viable treatment for their patients.
“Hair loss is an unfortunate effect of chemotherapy,” Kimberly Langford at Jellen Products. “Luckily, there are many safe supplemental products available to help hair grow back strong and healthy such as laser hair loss treatment, vitamin and mineral complexes and follicle stimulating shampoos.”
At the beginning of July, 15 patients were registered and 50 more are being sought for recruitment at US Oncology research sites in Texas and New Jersey.
The study is looking for newly-diagnosed female patients with stage 1-2 breast cancer. Participants in the study must be 18 years or older and must be planning to undergo at least 4 cycles of full-dose anthracycline or taxane neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy. Potential patients can contact the participating centers for more information.
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