Among 95 breast cancer patients who wore a cooling cap, 51% still had a good amount of hair after four cycles of
chemotherapy. Meanwhile, among the 47 control patients who did not use a cooling cap, ZERO had hair after four rounds of chemotherapy.
The results were so striking that the trial’s data safety and monitoring board decided to halt the study early and release the results.
The idea behind the cooling caps is to reduce the assault on hair by delivering less of the chemotherapy agent to follicles on the head. By chilling the scalp to about 66 degrees Fahrenheit, the caps constrict blood vessels and reduce blood flow by 20% to 40%. Chemotherapy drugs travel through the bloodstream, so less blood flow to the scalp means less of the drug reaches vulnerable follicles.
In the trial, women with Stage 1 or 2 breast cancer donned the silicone caps 30 minutes before beginning their chemotherapy treatments. They kept the caps on throughout the treatment and for 90 minutes after it was over. Even though breast cancer patients were studied, the cap is proposed to benefit any person with a solid tumor taking chemotherapy.