Thursday, October 28, 2010

Can Cold Caps Stop Chemo-Caused Hair Loss?

Anecdotal evidence is pouring out that a new product called the Penguin Cold Cap can prevent hair loss caused by chemotherapy. Read this story from ABC News:

This is no doubt interesting, but to-date there is no independent medical survey to confirm these effects are to be attributed to the cold caps. However, if testing proves it effective - and it doesn't pose a risk of preventing chemotherapy from reaching the scalp - then it would certainly be a breakthrough treatment.

As most people know, it is quite common for chemotherapy patients to lose their hair during the treatment process. The hair typically grows back once the treatment is finished. However, I've noticed in my own practice that cancer survivors often have permanent changes to their hair, including "thinner" hair after treatment as well as different color or curl. Treatments like low level therapy (using LaserCap or in-office devices) and the topical application of prostaglandin analogues or minoxidil can help.

Recently at the ISHRS 18th Annual Scientific Meeting, a case was presented where a man undergoing chemo for colon cancer used the LaserCap after his hair started to fall.  Even while undergoing chemo, his hair grew back thicker. More research is needed to determine if this will be a viable option.