For women, the hair loss that often comes with chemotherapy treatments is one of the more traumatic parts of cancer. Breast cancer, in particular, is more often the reason for that hair loss than any other. Cooling caps have become common, but until now, they haven't been extensively studied for efficacy.
Two new studies have shown that at least half of the women who used cooling caps see a less than fifty percent hair loss total versus those who do not use a cap. The DigniCap was tested in one study and the Paxman (pictured above) in another.
Researchers caution that more study is needed to determine the psychological benefits of the caps and hair loss mitigation.
Further study looking at the caps themselves, especially the ways in which they work, may also be warranted.
The DigniCap study, for example, involved only 106 women, but had good results with 66.3 percent of those involved showing less than fifty percent hair loss after four rounds of chemotherapy. All participants had either stage 1 or 2 breast cancer. All 16 of the women in the study who did not use a cooling cap lost all of their hair.
The DigniCap was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2015 and works by cooling the patient's head to 37 degrees Fahrenheit before chemotherapy treatment and is kept on during the session. It's available in 17 states.
The Paxman system was studied in another study at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. Of 95 women in the study, about half loss less than half their hair after four rounds of chemotherapy and five of those women had no significant hair loss at all. All 47 participants who did not use the cap lost all of their hair.
The Paxman cap is under review by the FDA.
Neither cooling cap had significant side effects associated with their use.