Multi-center Study Shows Benefits of Scalp Cooling in Alleviating Hair Loss in Breast Cancer Patients
UCSF News reports on the results of a new multi-center study showing that scalp cooling can mitigate one of most devastating side effects of systemic chemotherapy, hair loss, in a significant number of breast cancer patients. The results were reported on in JAMA. Hope S. Rugo, MD (pictured), was the lead author and Principal Investigator on the study. Michelle E. Melisko, MD, and Laura Esserman, MD, of UCSF were among the coauthors of the study.
Scalp cooling can lessen some chemotherapy-induced hair loss – one of the most devastating hallmarks of cancer – in certain breast cancer patients, according to a new multicenter study from UC San Francisco, Weill Cornell Medicine and three other medical centers.
A majority of the study’s patients, all women with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer who underwent scalp cooling, retained more than half of their hair after completing chemotherapy, the investigators learned. The study, which tracks patients over five years, used standardized photographs to grade hair loss.
The study will be published Feb. 14 in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Hair loss is almost universal among breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy and is one of the most distressing of adverse side effects,” said first author Hope S. Rugo, MD, the corresponding author who led the study. Rugo is a UCSF professor of medicine specializing in breast cancer research and treatment, and director of the breast oncology and clinical trials education program at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“We found that scalp cooling during commonly used chemotherapy regimens was well tolerated and was associated with significantly less hair loss, as well as improvement in several quality-of-life indicators,” Rugo said. “While further research is needed, the data suggest that when scalp cooling is successful at decreasing hair loss, it could improve the treatment experience for women undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer.”
“Enabling a woman to preserve her hair during chemotherapy is empowering,” said senior author Tessa Cigler, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of clinical medicine in the Weill Cornell Breast Center at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Scalp cooling allows patients to protect their privacy and maintain their self-esteem and sense of well-being. This study provides long-awaited evidence for an effective and practical scalp cooling method.”