Hair; women tend to shave it all off, rather than watch it fall out in clumps, before chemotherapy for breast cancer.
For women, losing hair is major. Yes, it’s worth losing it to save your life, but it's still major.
I’m happy to say that this is the weirdest study I’ve read all week, yet it brings a huge smile to my face.
So get this: among women who used a cooling headgear, starting 20 minutes before chemotherapy and continuing for 60-90 minutes after their infusion, 24% did not wear a wig or headband upon completion of chemotherapy, compared with 4% of a control group that did not use the device.
The judge in this study was a hairdresser, who did not know whether they had used the cooling cap or not. A hairdresser looked at before and after photos and judged hair loss: “not at all; a little; or moderate,” from the beginning to the end of chemotherapy.
The hairdresser graded the hair loss intervention as successful in 34% of the scalp-cooling group (half of women who wore the cap reported less hair loss as well.)
So why does this work?
If you cool the scalp there is vasoconstriction, so there is less blood that goes in the scalp. The system tested in the study used a cap that is placed in a freezer and changed every 20-30 minutes, starting 20 minutes before chemotherapy and continuing for 60-90 minutes afterward.
The take away message here is that 70% of women who tried scalp cooling said the advantages outweighed the disadvantages, and 80% said they would recommend it to other women receiving the same chemotherapy for breast cancer.
When our women, undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, are optimistic and happier with their hair...it’s all good.
- Dr. O
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