A cancer diagnosis is often a distressing episode, and hair loss during chemotherapy echoes as one of the biggest fears of cancer patients. 65 per cent of chemotherapy patients1 experience hair loss as a side effect. The condition begins with hair thinning before gradually falling off.
With scalp cooling therapy, cancer patients can focus on treatment and managing their health instead of stressing over side effects – such as hair loss – that may affect their morale and impede their recovery.
1Trueb, R. M. (2010). Chemotherapy-induced hair loss. Skin Therapy Letter. Jul-Aug (2010); 15(7):5-7.
How does scalp cooling therapy work?
Scalp cooling therapy works by lowering the temperature of your scalp before, during, and after chemotherapy to prevent chemotherapy drugs from damaging hair follicles. During the therapy, a cold cap will be placed on your scalp to reduce the blood flow rate by 60 to 80 per cent.
In order for the scalp cooling therapy to work effectively, you are expected to wear the cold cap 30 minutes before your chemotherapy commences, during the treatment, and for about 90 to 120 minutes after the session is completed.
Who is suitable for scalp cooling therapy?
Scalp cooling therapy is suitable for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy at Raffles Cancer Centre. However, every patient’s suitability is assessed on a case-by-case basis, depending on their health status. To find out if you are suitable for scalp cooling therapy, speak to our oncologist for an assessment.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Minimising hair loss has been found to help patients preserve their personal identity and self-esteem. This can give you a much-needed sense of control in an otherwise overwhelming experience, such as undergoing a cancer treatment.
Studies have shown that the DigniCap Scalp Cooling System prevented hair loss in 66.3 per cent of patients with breast cancer receiving adjuvant chemotherapy. Most patients report a significant reduction of hair loss and faster hair re-growth following the end of chemotherapy. More than half of the female patients involved in the study reported that they did not use wigs, caps, scarves, or other head wear to hide hair loss issues.
For scalp cooling therapy to be effective, the scalp needs to be kept at a low temperature. You may experience headaches during the treatment but wearing warm clothes and consuming hot drinks can help make you feel more comfortable. A recent survey on cancer patients in Singapore found that 90 per cent of patients did not find scalp cooling uncomfortable.
The common side effects are headaches, itchiness and pain in the scalp, and head discomfort. Most symptoms are mild with none being severe.
To counter the side effects, wearing warm clothes, consuming warm or hot drinks, and listening to soothing music during the scalp cooling therapy have been reported to help improve comfort. If the side effects persist or become worse, speak to your oncologist.
Scalp cooling therapy should be used before, during, and after each chemotherapy session. Should you decide to stop the scalp cooling treatment, the effect of hair preservation will wear off. Stopping this therapy does not affect the effectiveness of the chemotherapy treatment.
Metastasis occurs when cancer spreads to other parts of the body. A 2017 study found that there was no statistical difference in the incidence of scalp metastases between patients using scalp cooling therapy and those who did not undergo the therapy. This implies that scalp cooling is highly unlikely to increase the incidence of scalp metastasis in patients with early-stage breast cancer receiving adjuvant chemotherapy.
Make An Appointment
Make an appointment to consult an oncologist or haematologist. To make an appointment, select "Specialist Appointment". Under Specialist Appointment Details, select "Haematology", "Radiation Oncology", or "Oncology".