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Scalp cooling device prevents hair loss in cancer patients

A cancer survivor tries on a wig donated by the Kenya Cancer Association: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Kenya. FILE PHOTO | EMMA NZIOKA
A cancer survivor tries on a wig donated by the Kenya Cancer Association: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Kenya. FILE PHOTO | EMMA NZIOKA  

New scalp cooling technology can prevent hair loss in women undergoing early stage chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, results of a recent research have shown.

In what will be good news for cancer patients, two studies published in the February 14 issue of the JAMA journal found that the approach reduces blood flow to hair follicles thus preventing the absorption of chemicals used in chemotherapy thus preventing hair loss.

For this to happen, a cap with the cooling device is placed on the patient’s head prior to chemotherapy and does not have to be changed or removed until the treatment is completed.

Chemotherapy often results in hair loss, which women rate as one of the most distressing effects of the procedure.

In one of the studies involving 142 participants at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, researchers found that patients who undertook scalp cooling were significantly more likely than those who did not benefit from it to have less than 50 per cent hair loss.

In the second study conducted at the University of California, 66 per cent of patients who underwent scalp cooling had a 50 per cent reduced risk of hair loss while all those not subjected to it lost their hair.

While the two studies were only conducted on patients at early stages of their cancer, a researcher also recommended the procedure to those with more advanced-stage cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Kenya.

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