Home > Treatments > Side Effects > Cancer Treatments and Hair Loss

Cancer Treatments and Hair Loss

Hair loss (alopecia) is a common, but often distressing, side effect of chemotherapy. It can also be caused by radiotherapy. The amount of hair lost will depend on the specific drugs and dose given, and your individual reaction to these drugs. Hair loss is usually temporary and normally hair grows back within a few weeks after finishing treatment; sometimes it may grow back with a slightly different texture and color. Scalp cooling is sometimes used to try and reduce the amount of hair loss, but it is not suitable for everyone. Scalp cooling may be ineffective for certain drugs/doses and usually not used for people with haematological cancers because of the increased risk of cancer cells surviving in the blood vessels of the scalp.

Found this page useful?

Web Resources: Alopecia
Latest Research Publications

Web Resources: Alopecia (11 links)

Latest Research Publications

Lim YC, Kim H, Lim SM, Kim JS
Genetic analysis of a novel antioxidant multi-target iron chelator, M30 protecting against chemotherapy-induced alopecia in mice.
BMC Cancer. 2019; 19(1):149 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Chemotherapy-induced alopecia has been well documented as a cause of distress to patients undergoing cancer treatment. Almost all traditional chemotherapeutic agents cause severe alopecia. Despite advances in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced alopecia, there is no effective treatment for preventing chemotherapy-induced alopecia.
METHODS: In the present study, we investigated the potential role of a multi-target iron chelator, M30 in protecting against cyclophosphamide-induced alopecia in C57BL/6 mice implanted with an osmotic pump. M30 enhanced hair growth and prevented cyclophosphamide-induced abnormal hair in the mice. Furthermore, we examined the gene expression profiles derived from skin biopsy specimens of normal mice, cyclophosphamide-treated mice, and cyclophosphamide treated mice with M30 supplement.
RESULTS: The top genes namely Tnfrsf19, Ercc2, Lama5, Ctsl, and Per1 were identified by microarray analysis. These genes were found to be involved in the biological processes of hair cycle, hair cycle phase, hair cycle process, hair follicle development, hair follicle maturation, hair follicle morphogenesis, regulation of hair cycle.
CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrates that M30 treatment is a promising therapy for cyclophosphamide-induced alopecia and suggests that the top five genes have unique preventive effects in cyclophosphamide-induced transformation.

Guidry J, Brown M, Medina T
PD-1 inhibitor induced alopecia areata.
Dermatol Online J. 2018; 24(12) [PubMed] Related Publications
Immune checkpoint modulators are becoming more prevalent in clinical use for the treatment of metastatic melanoma and other malignancies. These drugs, including programmed death 1 (PD-1) inhibitors, have a high incidence of immune adverse events, including cutaneous manifestations. Alopecia is a known side effect with these drugs, but previous reports describe chemotherapy-induced alopecia. We report a case of alopecia areata in a patient on monotherapy with pembrolizumab (PD-1 inhibitor). It is important for the dermatologist to recognize and appropriately treat to decrease morbidity for these patients.

Rozner RN, Freites-Martinez A, Shapiro J, et al.
Safety of 5α-reductase inhibitors and spironolactone in breast cancer patients receiving endocrine therapies.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2019; 174(1):15-26 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: To provide dermatologists and oncologists with a foundation for practical understanding and uses of 5α-reductase inhibitors and spironolactone for breast cancer patients and survivors receiving endocrine therapies (ETs), including the effect of these treatments on sex hormone levels, any reported drug interactions, and any risk of malignancy.
METHODS: All published studies from January 1978 through April 2018 were considered, using databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, and Science Direct. Forty-seven studies were included in this review.
RESULTS: There is no evidence of interactions between 5α-reductase inhibitors and spironolactone with ETs used in breast cancer. Sex hormone alteration with 5α-reductase inhibitor or spironolactone use is variable. Three randomized controlled trials, 1 case-control study, and 6 retrospective cohort studies, including 284 female patients, studied the effects of 5α-reductase inhibitors on serum estrogen levels. Levels were increased in 97 of 284 (34%) patients, decreased in 15 of 284 (5.3%) patients, and unchanged in 162 of 284 (57%) patients. Four retrospective cohort studies, 1 case study, and 1 double-blinded crossover study, including 95 female patients, assessed the effect of spironolactone on estrogen levels. Levels were increased in 25 of 95 (26%) patients, decreased in 6 of 95 (6.3%) patients, and unchanged in 64 of 95 (67%) patients. Ultimately, most patients did not have a significant alteration in the level of estrogen when using 5α-reductase inhibitors or spironolactone. No consistent evidence of increased risk of female breast cancer while on spironolactone was reported in 3 studies including 49,298 patients; the risk of breast cancer with the use of 5α-reductase inhibitors has not been studied.
CONCLUSIONS: Most patients did not show increased estrogen levels with spironolactone and there were no data suggesting increased risk of breast cancer. Based on hormonal and pharmacological activity, spironolactone may be considered for further research on alopecia and hirsutism in breast cancer patients.

Prochilo T, Huscher A, Andreis F, et al.
Hair Loss Prevention by a Scalp Cooling Device in Early Breast Cancer Patients: The Poliambulanza Preliminary Experience.
Rev Recent Clin Trials. 2019; 14(1):66-71 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The most effective agents in the treatment of breast cancer have a common side effect, the hair loss. Some studies reported a reduction of hair loss with the use of the scalp cooling device. Indeed, it decreases the drug accumulation in the hair follicles. We report our preliminary experience with a scalp cooling device in reducing chemotherapy-induced alopecia and related distress in breast cancer patients undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy.
METHODS: Hair loss grading and treatment tolerability were evaluated during chemotherapy every 21 days and 3 weeks after the last cycle of chemotherapy via Dean's scale by patients and operators and a comfort analogic scale by patients. We administered the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale questionnaire at the baseline and at the end of treatment to assess the distress related to chemotherapy- induced alopecia.
RESULTS: Among the 46 patients identified, 27 accepted the device. The eligible chemotherapy regimens included docetaxel+cyclophosphamide (TC), doxorubicin+cyclophosphamide (AC) and paclitaxel (P) weekly+trastuzumab (T). 24 pts (89%) completed the treatment; 3 pts (11%) treated with AC prematurely interrupted use of the scalp-cooling device due to inefficacy. After the last cycle of chemotherapy, the number of patient who perceived a HL < grade 2 was 16 (59%). The hair retention reported by operators has been higher (78%). 81.5% of patients well tolerated the treatment.
CONCLUSION: In our study, the scalp-cooling device reduced chemotherapy-induced alopecia in taxane- based chemotherapy. Furthermore, it suggests a discordance in hair loss perception between patients and operators.

Smetanay K, Junio P, Feißt M, et al.
COOLHAIR: a prospective randomized trial to investigate the efficacy and tolerability of scalp cooling in patients undergoing (neo)adjuvant chemotherapy for early breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2019; 173(1):135-143 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA) is a distressing side effect for women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Scalp cooling is a method aiming to prevent CIA, but its efficacy is not well defined. Randomized trials until recently and at the time this trial was designed have been lacking.
METHODS: Patients undergoing (neo)adjuvant chemotherapy for early breast cancer (EBC) were randomized to scalp cooling (CAP) or observation (NoCAP). All patients received 18-24 weeks of anthracycline- and/or taxane-based chemotherapy. The primary endpoint was patient-reported rate of alopecia according to a modified version of the Dean Scale. Hair preservation was defined as hair loss ≤ grade 2 (≤ 50%). Secondary endpoints were rate of alopecia determined by medical staff, rate of wig/scarf use, tolerability as well as quality of life (QoL).
RESULTS: Seventy-nine patients were randomized. Hair preservation was observed in 39.3% of patients in the CAP arm versus 0% in the NoCAP arm (p < 0.001). Wig/scarf use was significantly less frequent in the CAP group (40.7% vs 95.5% outside home before cycle 3, p < 0.001). The drop-out rate was 31.7% and 34.2% in the CAP and NoCAP arm, respectively. Main reasons for drop-out were hair loss, adverse events (CAP), and randomization into control arm. We observed no differences in efficacy between anthracycline-based and non-anthracycline-based regimens. QoL did not differ between the study arms.
CONCLUSIONS: This trial adds to the evidence that scalp cooling effectively prevents CIA in a meaningful number of patients. This option should be made available for patients undergoing (neo)adjuvant chemotherapy for EBC.

Fischer-Cartlidge E, Ross M, Hernández K, et al.
Scalp Cooling: Implementation of a Program at a Multisite Organization.
Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2018; 22(5):534-541 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Chemotherapy-induced alopecia is a well-known side effect of some types of cancer treatments. With U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance of two scalp cooling machines, patients with cancer now have the opportunity to minimize this hair loss. However, multiple barriers can exist for organizations when establishing a scalp cooling program.
OBJECTIVES: This article describes the experience of a large multisite organization that implemented a machine-based scalp cooling program.
METHODS: Nursing staff led an interprofessional team that addressed components of the program. As a result, eight sites within the authors' organization simultaneously began offering scalp cooling via machine using a single unified process. This approach was then successfully replicated one year later to prepare six additional sites to launch scalp cooling for other solid tumor types beyond breast cancer.
FINDINGS: Using a structured, collaborative, and interprofessional approach to the implementation of a scalp cooling program at the authors' institution allowed for standardization of care across sites. This approach can be replicated at other healthcare institutions.

Komen MMC, van den Hurk CJG, Nortier JWR, et al.
Prolonging the duration of post-infusion scalp cooling in the prevention of anthracycline-induced alopecia: a randomised trial in patients with breast cancer treated with adjuvant chemotherapy.
Support Care Cancer. 2019; 27(5):1919-1925 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Scalp cooling as a method to reduce the incidence of chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA) is increasingly used in daily practice worldwide. However, in patients treated with 5-fluorouracil, epirubicin and cyclophosphamide (FEC), scalp cooling fails in 48-67% of patients. This study investigated the efficacy of extended duration of post-infusion scalp cooling in breast cancer patients treated with this regimen.
METHODS: In this prospective multi-centre randomised study, 102 patients with early breast cancer treated with adjuvant FEC chemotherapy were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to a post-infusion cooling time of 90 or 150 min. The primary endpoint was the need to wear a wig or other head covering to mask visible hair loss.
RESULTS: Sixteen out of 48 patients (33%) treated with 90 min of post-infusion cooling did not need any head covering, compared with 21 out of 46 patients (45%) treated with 150 min of post-infusion cooling (p = 0.2). WHO grades 2-3 (moderate-complete) alopecia were reported more often in patients treated with 90-min post-infusion cooling time (n = 25/51 (49%) versus n = 17/51 (33%); p = 0,02). Scalp cooling was well-tolerated (mean Visual Analogue Score 7.4) and only three patients (3%) stopped due to intolerance during treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: Extending the duration of 90-min post-infusion scalp cooling to 150 min in patients treated with adjuvant FEC chemotherapy was well-tolerated but did not significantly diminish the need for head covering. However, grades 2-3 alopecia was seen less often with prolonged post-infusion scalp cooling.

Chan A, Bauwens A, Pontre S, et al.
Efficacy of scalp cooling in reducing alopecia in early breast cancer patients receiving contemporary chemotherapy regimens.
Breast. 2018; 41:127-132 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Hair loss as a result of chemotherapy for early breast cancer (EBC) is a frequent and distressing side effect. Minimising hair loss may improve mood and body image. Our aim was to determine scalp cooling (SC) efficacy in EBC patients receiving contemporary chemotherapy regimen, to inform future patients choice to use SC or not.
METHODS AND RESULTS: Prospective cohort study of 60 stage 1-3 EBC patients recommended to receive taxane or anthracycline-taxane chemotherapy regimens. The primary outcome was incidence of minimal hair-loss (MHL - defined as 60% Dean grade 1 or 2). Patients were categorised by chemotherapy (3 groups) and randomised 1:1 within each group to two scalp cooling temperature settings using the Dignitana Dignicap machine (secondary endpoint). Patients reported degree of hair loss using the Dean score on day 1 of each cycle and following the last chemotherapy.
RESULTS: On an intention-to-treat basis, 33% of patients reported MHL, thus our primary endpoint was not achieved. Patients receiving taxane-only chemotherapy had the highest rate of MHL (45%). No other factors (including hair type, age, body weight, temperature setting) predicted for MHL. Patient-reported anxiety reduced significantly in all patients, but no difference was observed for depression or body image irrespective of degree of hair loss. SC-related adverse events were uniformly of low grade and all resolved. We would recommend the use of SC for all patients receiving taxane-based chemotherapy, with its use for those patients recommended for anthracycline-taxane regimens being made on an individual basis. Trial Registration anztr.org.au ACTRN12615001106527.

Vasconcelos I, Wiesske A, Schoenegg W
Scalp cooling successfully prevents alopecia in breast cancer patients undergoing anthracycline/taxane-based chemotherapy.
Breast. 2018; 40:1-3 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Chemotherapy for breast cancer induces alopecia, representing a major source of patient distress. This study assesses whether a scalp-cooling device is effective in reducing chemotherapy-induced alopecia, and assesses adverse treatment effects.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A prospective observational study including women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy and scalp cooling using a Paxman device. The primary efficacy end points were: successful hair preservation (no hair loss; <30% hair loss not requiring a wig; or <50% hair loss not requiring a wig) at the completion of chemotherapy. Secondary end points included adverse effects such as headache, pain, nausea or dizziness.
RESULTS: The study enrolled 131 participants. Mean patient age was 49.8 years; 74% received anthracycline/taxane-based chemotherapy and 26% received taxane-monotherapy based chemotherapy. Hair preservation was successful in 102 women who underwent scalp cooling (71.0%; 95% CI = 63-79%). Only adverse events related to device use were collected, representing 7% (95% CI = 3-11%) of cases.
CONCLUSIONS: Scalp cooling is effective in preventing hair loss among breast cancer patients undergoing standard chemotherapy treatment, and has minimal adverse effects.

Komen MMC, van den Hurk CJG, Nortier JWR, et al.
Patient-reported outcome assessment and objective evaluation of chemotherapy-induced alopecia.
Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2018; 33:49-55 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Alopecia is one of the most distressing side effects of chemotherapy. Evaluating and comparing the efficacy of potential therapies to prevent chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA) has been complicated by the lack of a standardized measurement for hair loss. In this study we investigated the correlation between patient-reported outcome assessments and quantitative measurement with the hair check to assess CIA in clinical practice.
METHOD: Scalp cooling efficacy was evaluated by patients by World Health Organisation (WHO) of CIA, Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and wig use. The Hair Check was used to determine the amount of hair (in mm
RESULTS: Baseline HMI was not predictive for hair loss. HMI declined throughout all chemotherapy cycles, which was not reflected by patient-reported measures. HMI correlated with patient-reported hair quantity before the start of the therapy, but not with WHO and/or VAS during therapy. Patient's opinion correlated moderately with the opinion of doctors and nurses (ρ = 0.50-0.56 respectively), but strongly with hair dressers (ρ = 0.70).
CONCLUSIONS: The Hair check is suitable to quantify the amount of hair loss and could complement research on refining outcome of scalp cooling, but the patient's opinion should be considered as the best method to assess hair loss in clinical practice.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Trialregister.nl NTR number 3082.

Pandey M, Ramasamy M, Shukla M
Unusual progression of renal cell carcinoma with carcinomatosis peritoneii and Krukenberg tumour and alopecia with sunitinib therapy in young female.
World J Surg Oncol. 2018; 16(1):23 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Sunitinib is a multiple receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) used for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma (RCC). It increases the median survival considerably with minimum side effects. Alopecia is one of the rare side effects. Metastasis to the ovary is also rare. We report a case of RCC metastasizing to the ovary developing alopecia early on starting sunitinib.
CASE PRESENTATION: A 22-year-old hypothyroid girl underwent right radical nephrectomy for T
CONCLUSIONS: The present case shows a rare metastasis to the ovary and early onset of rare adverse event of alopecia on starting sunitinib therapy. In the presence of confounding factors like hypothyroidism and dandruff, establishing this as an adverse reaction of sunitinib is difficult. This case had a unique metastatic spread with involvement of the bowel, ovary and peritoneal carcinomatosis. Use of adjuvant TKI's after resection of primary tumour in nonmetastatic setting may reduce metastatic rates and increase progression-free survival.

Pierrisnard C, Baciuchka M, Mancini J, et al.
Body image and psychological distress in women with breast cancer: a French online survey on patients' perceptions and expectations.
Breast Cancer. 2018; 25(3):303-308 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Altered body image caused by alopecia, loss of eyebrows or eyelashes, or mastectomy is a major source of psychological distress in women with breast cancer.
OBJECTIVE: To identify and to assess patients' perceptions and expectations regarding altered body image.
METHOD: Opinion survey conducted among patients treated for breast cancer and member of French online support groups. Anonymous online self-administered survey sent to women with breast cancer.
RESULTS: 85% of the women interviewed experienced alopecia during treatment and 67% of them loss of eyebrows or eyelashes. About half of patients suffering alopecia and loss of eyebrows or eyelashes reported fearing what others think. Mastectomy was experienced by 84% of the women in our study, but only 32% of them reported fearing what others think. 87% of our study cohort received information about the possibility of adverse events. 70, 56, and 60% of women felt helped by information they received for the management of alopecia, loss of eyebrows or eyelashes, or mastectomy, respectively.
CONCLUSION: This study confirms that altered body image is a critical psychosocial issue for women with breast cancer. Effective information can be a source of reassurance and may constitute one of the most important sources of emotional support.

Rugo HS, Voigt J
Scalp Hypothermia for Preventing Alopecia During Chemotherapy. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.
Clin Breast Cancer. 2018; 18(1):19-28 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Alopecia is a side effect of chemotherapy and affects a patient's quality of life. Cooling the scalp during chemotherapy might reduce alopecia. The objective of this systematic and meta-analysis was to examine the effects of scalp cooling on the end point of alopecia in randomized controlled trials.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines were followed. Electronic searches of databases were undertaken through February 2017. In addition other sources were searched. All languages were considered for evaluation. Data were collected and evaluated using a data collection form. Assessment of biases was undertaken using Cochrane methods. When studies could be combined, binary outcomes were evaluated using risk ratio assessment and continuous outcomes were assessed using mean difference (MD). Confidence intervals (CIs) were included and heterogeneity using the I
RESULTS: Ten studies were included in the analysis comprised of 654 patients. Most were patients with breast cancer 432 patients [66%] mainly receiving anthracyclines. For the binary outcome of < 50% versus > 50% alopecia, the use of scalp cooling reduced relative risk (RR) of alopecia by 43% (RR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.45-0.72; I
CONCLUSION: This systematic review and meta-analysis supports the use of scalp cooling to prevent alopecia in patients with solid tumors undergoing chemotherapy.

Rice BA, Ver Hoeve ES, DeLuca AN, et al.
Registry study to assess hair loss prevention with the Penguin Cold Cap in breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2018; 167(1):117-122 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Chemotherapy-induced alopecia is a distressing side effect of cancer treatment. The aim of this registry study was to assess efficacy and tolerability of scalp hypothermia using Penguin Cold Caps (Penguin) in breast cancer patients.
METHODS: Hair loss was assessed by patients using a 100-point Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and by physicians using the 5-point Dean Scale at baseline, every 3-4 weeks during chemotherapy, and at least 1 month after completion of chemotherapy. The primary efficacy endpoint for success was defined as ≤50% hair loss by patient report (VAS) at follow-up (FUP). Tolerability and satisfaction were assessed by patient report.
RESULTS: 103 patients enrolled between 7/2010 and 6/2015; 97 are evaluable for the primary endpoint. Chemotherapy included docetaxel/cyclophosphamide (TC; n = 50) for 4-6 cycles every 3 weeks, weekly paclitaxel for 12 weeks then doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide (P/AC; n = 23) for 4 cycles every 2-3 weeks, AC then paclitaxel (AC/P; n = 10), docetaxel/carboplatin ± trastuzumab (TCH; n = 4) for 4-6 cycles every 3 weeks. Overall, 61% of patients successfully prevented CIA; impact was regimen specific: TCH 100%, TC × 4 84%, TC × 5-6 50%, P/AC 43%, AC/P 20%. The most common toxicity was headache, reported by 78.5% of patients with mean pain level 37/100. Satisfaction among those who completed scalp cooling (SC) and FUP ranged from 74 to 100%. All patients who completed SC/FUP recommended Penguin.
CONCLUSIONS: Scalp hypothermia with Penguin is effective in reducing alopecia, particularly for non-anthracycline-based shorter regimens. Penguin was well tolerated and viewed favorably by most patients.

Smith K, Winstanley J, Boyle F, et al.
Madarosis: a qualitative study to assess perceptions and experience of Australian patients with early breast cancer treated with taxane-based chemotherapy.
Support Care Cancer. 2018; 26(2):483-489 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Eyebrow and eyelash loss (madarosis) is a common and distressing side effect of chemotherapy for which no protective strategies have yet been developed. The purpose of this study was to develop an overview of perceptions and experiences of women undergoing taxane-based treatment for early breast cancer.
METHODS: A total of 25 women with a diagnosis of invasive early breast cancer participated in a focus group (n = 5), ages ranging from 35 to 64 (median 50), all had completed therapy with a taxane-based chemotherapy treatment. This focus group used targeted questions to explore participants' perceptions and experience of madarosis during and following chemotherapy and identified issues associated with impact of madarosis on quality of life (QoL). Thematic analysis was conducted to identify important issues experienced by participants.
RESULTS: Seven themes emerged from the data: (1) timing of regrowth and permanent changes, (2) meaning/importance of eyebrow/eyelashes, (3) preparedness/information given, (4) impact of the hair loss of self, (5) impact of hair loss on others, (6) physiological side effects of loss of eyebrows/eyelashes, and (7) management of loss of eyebrows/eyelashes. In addition, participants noted physical symptoms of eye irritation during their treatment that they attributed to madarosis.
CONCLUSION: This study highlights the significant impact of madarosis on patients, providing the first published analysis of patient's attitude and perception of eyelash and eyebrow loss during chemotherapy. Further research in this area is required and will be benefitted from the development of a dedicated instrument/questionnaire that can capture and measure the impact of madarosis on QoL and allow development of clinical trial strategies.

Katz A
Scalp Cooling: The Prevention of Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia
Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2017; 21(4):413-415 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hair loss (alopecia) from chemotherapy is one of the most feared side effects of many patients, particularly women. Many patients and their healthcare providers believe that cryotherapy can help prevent or mitigate these changes. Scalp cooling has been used for more than 30 years to prevent alopecia caused by chemotherapy, particularly taxanes and anthracyclines. This article presents an overview of the evidence for this strategy, as well as its impact on nursing care provision.

Dessinioti C, Antoniou C, Stratigos AJ
From basal cell carcinoma morphogenesis to the alopecia induced by hedgehog inhibitors: connecting the dots.
Br J Dermatol. 2017; 177(6):1485-1494 [PubMed] Related Publications
The deciphering of the hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathway implicated in the tumorigenesis of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) led to the development of targeted drug therapies, the Hh pathway inhibitors (HPIs) vismodegib and sonidegib. In the skin, physiological Hh signalling is activated in growing hair follicles (HFs), where it is required for proliferation of the epithelium of HFs during morphogenesis and for their postnatal growth. The effects of HPI treatment leading to the regression of BCC and the development of alopecia underpin the central role of the Hh pathway in BCC formation, as well as hair cycling. Given the fact that BCC is a follicular-driven tumour, it is a fine tuning of events that regulate hair cycling that may drive towards the formation of benign follicular hamartomas or malignant BCC neoplasms. Wnt/β-catenin signalling interacts with the Hh signalling during HF morphogenesis, normal hair cycling and BCC development. The aim of this review is to present how key molecular events implicated in Hh pathway crosstalk in the HF are also involved in BCC pathogenesis and result in the alopecia developed by HPI treatment.

Kim GM, Kim S, Park HS, et al.
Chemotherapy-induced irreversible alopecia in early breast cancer patients.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2017; 163(3):527-533 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: The purpose of this work is to determine the prevalence of chemotherapy-induced irreversible alopecia (CIIA), which is defined as an alopecia that exists at least 6 months after completion of chemotherapy and factors affecting CIIA in early breast cancer patients.
METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional study. We retrospectively identified breast cancer patients who had received AC (Adriamycin, Cyclophosphamide) or AC-T (AC followed by Taxane) as neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy. We conducted questionnaire survey regarding alopecia and measured hair density using phototrichogram.
RESULTS: From February 2015 to May 2015, among 265 patients who responded properly to the questionnaire, the women who answered they had severe alopecia (alopecia > 50% of scalp) were 19 patients (7.2%). AC-only and AC-T treated patients reported severe alopecia in 2.7% and 10.5%, respectively, which were significantly different (p < 0.001). Mean hair density was 75 hair/cm

Ross M, Fischer-Cartlidge E
Scalp Cooling: A Literature Review of Efficacy, Safety, and Tolerability for Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia
Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2017; 21(2):226-233 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: More than 75% of patients with cancer cite alopecia as the most feared side effect of treatment, with as many as 10% considering treatment refusal. Despite wide acceptance in other countries, scalp cooling to reduce chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA) has been uncommon in the United States because of longstanding concerns of scalp metastases and a lack of reliable efficacy data. 
OBJECTIVES: This article reviews 40 years of efficacy, safety, and tolerability literature on scalp cooling to prevent CIA. 
METHODS: A systematic review was performed in PubMed and CINAHL®. Forty articles were reviewed, with 12 articles demonstrating high levels of evidence and meeting inclusion criteria. Comparative trials, systematic reviews, and one large single-arm trial were included. 
FINDINGS: Scalp cooling efficacy is dependent on many factors but demonstrates better hair preservation than no cooling. No increase in scalp metastases or statistically significant difference in overall survival was seen in retrospective safety data when cooling was used. Few patients discontinue cooling early because of adverse experiences.

Fonia A, Cota C, Setterfield JF, et al.
Permanent alopecia in patients with breast cancer after taxane chemotherapy and adjuvant hormonal therapy: Clinicopathologic findings in a cohort of 10 patients.
J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017; 76(5):948-957 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Anagen effluvium with reversible scalp alopecia is a known side effect of chemotherapy. However, there are an increasing number of reports in the literature documenting permanent alopecia in patients treated with taxanes.
OBJECTIVE: We sought to describe the clinicopathologic features in breast cancer patients who underwent treatment with taxanes and adjuvant hormonal chemotherapy.
METHODS: We reviewed the clinical and histopathologic information of a cohort of 10 patients treated with taxanes and adjuvant hormonal chemotherapy.
RESULTS: We have observed 3 types of clinical patterns of alopecia (types A, B, and C), and have validated the histopathologic features showing alopecia areata-like and female pattern hair loss.
LIMITATIONS: The study was based on a small sample size and retrospective retrieval of clinical information and histopathologic review of posttreatment slides.
CONCLUSIONS: We hypothesize a clinicopathologic model of hair follicle cycle disruption in response to the chemoinflammatory and hormonal insults to the hair follicles resulting in permanent alopecia. Clinicopathologic correlation is paramount to the understanding of the morphobiologic pathways in chemotherapy-induced alopecia caused by taxanes and adjuvant hormonal treatment.

Rugo HS, Melin SA, Voigt J
Scalp cooling with adjuvant/neoadjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer and the risk of scalp metastases: systematic review and meta-analysis.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2017; 163(2):199-205 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
PURPOSE: The risk of scalp metastases in patients using scalp cooling for preservation of hair during chemotherapy has been a concern but is poorly described.
METHODS: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies was undertaken to evaluate the effect of scalp cooling versus no scalp cooling on the risk of scalp metastasis in patients treated for breast cancer with chemotherapy. Electronic databases, journal specific, and hand searches of articles identified were searched. Patients were matched based on disease, treatment, lack of metastatic disease, and sex.
RESULTS: A total of 24 full-text articles were identified for review. Of these articles, ten quantified the incidence of scalp metastasis with scalp cooling over time. For scalp cooling, 1959 patients were evaluated over an estimated mean time frame of 43.1 months. For no scalp cooling, 1238 patients were evaluated over an estimated mean time frame of 87.4 months. The incidence rate of scalp metastasis in the scalp cooling group versus the no scalp cooling group was 0.61% (95% CI 0.32-1.1%) versus 0.41% (95% CI 0.13-0.94%); P = 0.43.
CONCLUSION: The incidence of scalp metastases was low regardless of scalp cooling. This analysis suggests that scalp cooling does not increase the incidence of scalp metastases.

Rugo HS, Klein P, Melin SA, et al.
Association Between Use of a Scalp Cooling Device and Alopecia After Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer.
JAMA. 2017; 317(6):606-614 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Importance: Chemotherapy-induced alopecia is a common and distressing adverse effect. In previous studies of scalp cooling to prevent chemotherapy-induced alopecia, conclusions have been limited.
Objectives: To evaluate whether use of a scalp cooling system is associated with a lower amount of hair loss among women receiving specific chemotherapy regimens for early-stage breast cancer and to assess related changes in quality of life.
Design, Setting, and Participants: A prospective cohort study conducted at 5 US medical centers of women with stage I or II breast cancer receiving adjuvant or neoadjuvant chemotherapy regimens excluding sequential or combination anthracycline and taxane (106 patients in the scalp cooling group and 16 in the control group; 14 matched by both age and chemotherapy regimen). The study was conducted between August 2013 and October 2014 with ongoing annual follow-up for 5 years.
Exposures: Use of a scalp cooling system. Scalp cooling was initiated 30 minutes prior to each chemotherapy cycle, with scalp temperature maintained at 3°C (37°F) throughout chemotherapy and for 90 minutes to 120 minutes afterward.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Self-estimated hair loss using the Dean scale was assessed 4 weeks after the last dose of chemotherapy by unblinded patient review of 5 photographs. A Dean scale score of 0 to 2 (≤50% hair loss) was defined as treatment success. A positive association between scalp cooling and reduced risk of hair loss would be demonstrated if 50% or more of patients in the scalp cooling group achieved treatment success, with the lower bound of the 95% CI greater than 40% of the success proportion. Quality of life was assessed at baseline, at the start of the last chemotherapy cycle, and 1 month later. Median follow-up was 29.5 months.
Results: Among the 122 patients in the study, the mean age was 53 years (range, 28-77 years); 77.0% were white, 9.0% were black, and 10.7% were Asian; and the mean duration of chemotherapy was 2.3 months (median, 2.1 months). No participants in the scalp cooling group received anthracyclines. Hair loss of 50% or less (Dean score of 0-2) was seen in 67 of 101 patients (66.3%; 95% CI, 56.2%-75.4%) evaluable for alopecia in the scalp cooling group vs 0 of 16 patients (0%) in the control group (P < .001). Three of 5 quality-of-life measures were significantly better 1 month after the end of chemotherapy in the scalp cooling group. Of patients who underwent scalp cooling, 27.3% (95% CI, 18.0%-36.6%) reported feeling less physically attractive compared with 56.3% (95% CI, 31.9%-80.6%) of patients in the control group (P = .02). Of the 106 patients in the scalp cooling group, 4 (3.8%) experienced the adverse event of mild headache and 3 (2.8%) discontinued scalp cooling due to feeling cold.
Conclusions and Relevance: Among women undergoing non-anthracycline-based adjuvant chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer, the use of scalp cooling vs no scalp cooling was associated with less hair loss at 4 weeks after the last dose of chemotherapy. Further research is needed to assess outcomes after patients receive anthracycline regimens, longer-term measures of alopecia, and adverse effects.
Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01831024.

Nangia J, Wang T, Osborne C, et al.
Effect of a Scalp Cooling Device on Alopecia in Women Undergoing Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer: The SCALP Randomized Clinical Trial.
JAMA. 2017; 317(6):596-605 [PubMed] Related Publications
Importance: Chemotherapy may induce alopecia. Although scalp cooling devices have been used to prevent this alopecia, efficacy has not been assessed in a randomized clinical trial.
Objectives: To assess whether a scalp cooling device is effective at reducing chemotherapy-induced alopecia and to assess adverse treatment effects.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Multicenter randomized clinical trial of women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Patients were enrolled from December 9, 2013, to September 30, 2016. One interim analysis was planned to allow the study to stop early for efficacy. Data reported are from the interim analysis. This study was conducted at 7 sites in the United States, and 182 women with breast cancer requiring chemotherapy were enrolled and randomized.
Interventions: Participants were randomized to scalp cooling (n = 119) or control (n = 63). Scalp cooling was done using a scalp cooling device.
Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary efficacy end points were successful hair preservation assessed using the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 4.0 scale (grade 0 [no hair loss] or grade 1 [<50% hair loss not requiring a wig] were considered to have hair preservation) at the end of 4 cycles of chemotherapy by a clinician unaware of treatment assignment, and device safety. Secondary end points included wig use and scores on the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and a summary scale of the Body Image Scale.
Results: At the time of the interim analysis, 142 participants were evaluable. The mean (SD) age of the patients was 52.6 (10.1) years; 36% (n = 51) received anthracycline-based chemotherapy and 64% (n = 91) received taxane-based chemotherapy. Successful hair preservation was found in 48 of 95 women with cooling (50.5%; 95% CI, 40.7%-60.4%) compared with 0 of 47 women in the control group (0%; 95% CI, 0%-7.6%) (success rate difference, 50.5%; 95% CI, 40.5%-60.6%). Because the 1-tailed P value from the Fisher exact test was <.001, which crossed the superiority boundary (P = .0061), the data and safety monitoring board recommended study termination on September 26, 2016. There were no statistically significant differences in changes in any of the scales of quality of life from baseline to chemotherapy cycle 4 among the scalp cooling and control groups. Only adverse events related to device use were collected; 54 adverse events were reported in the cooling group, all grades 1 and 2. There were no serious adverse device events.
Conclusions and Relevance: Among women with stage I to II breast cancer receiving chemotherapy with a taxane, anthracycline, or both, those who underwent scalp cooling were significantly more likely to have less than 50% hair loss after the fourth chemotherapy cycle compared with those who received no scalp cooling. Further research is needed to assess longer-term efficacy and adverse effects.
Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01986140.

Elhalawani H, Heiba M, Abdel-Rahman O
Risk of Distinctive Hair Changes Associated With Pazopanib in Patients With Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) Versus Patients Without RCC: A Comparative Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.
Clin Genitourin Cancer. 2017; 15(3):e325-e335 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: This systematic review and meta-analysis was accomplished with the purpose of evaluating the risk of encountering selected hair changes in patients with cancer receiving pazopanib.
METHODS: We favored relevant prospective randomized phase II and III trials that assessed pazopanib in patients with cancer, depicting various hair-related changes, as eligible for inclusion.
RESULTS: After elimination of ineligible studies, a total of 11 clinical trials were regarded as eligible for the meta-analysis. The relative risk of all-grade alopecia and hair color changes was 1.75 (95% confidence interval, 1.33-2.31; P < .0001) and 4.54 (95% confidence interval, 3.67-5.62; P < .00001), respectively. Subgroup analyses of hair color changes according to the type of cancer treated revealed significant differences between renal cell carcinoma and non-renal cell carcinoma studies (P = .01).
CONCLUSIONS: Our meta-analysis has established that pazopanib-based treatment can be significantly correlated to an elevated risk of all grade alopecia and hair color changes compared with controls.

Watanabe S, Kuwabara Y, Suehiro S, et al.
Valproic acid reduces hair loss and improves survival in patients receiving temozolomide-based radiation therapy for high-grade glioma.
Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2017; 73(3):357-363 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Valproic acid (VPA), a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, is also used to manage seizures in glioblastoma patients. HDAC inhibitors can protect normal cells and tissues from the deleterious effects of radiotherapy, and VPA is reported to improve the survival of glioblastoma patients receiving chemoradiation therapy. VPA also promotes hair growth, and thus has the potential to reduce the radiotherapy side effect of hair loss while improving the survival of patients with glioblastoma. The purpose of this study was to determine whether VPA use during radiotherapy for high-grade glioma is associated with decreased side effects of radiotherapy and an improvement in overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS).
METHODS: Medical records of 112 patients with high-grade glioma were retrospectively reviewed. We grouped patients by VPA use or non-use during radiotherapy, and evaluated hair loss, OS, and PFS.
RESULTS: The radiation dose and fractionation at the onset of hair loss were 4 Gy and two fractions higher, respectively, in the VPA group compared with the VPA non-use group (P < 0.01). Median OS was 42.2 and 20.3 months in the VPA use and non-use groups, respectively (P < 0.01; hazard ratio [HR], 0.36; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.18-0.74). Median PFS was 22.7 and 11.0 months in the VPA use and non-use groups, respectively (P = 0.099; HR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.36-1.09).
CONCLUSIONS: VPA use during radiotherapy for glioma is associated with delayed hair loss and improvement in survival. Hair loss prevention benefits patients suffering from the deleterious effects of radiation.

Komen MMC, Smorenburg CH, Nortier JWR, et al.
Results of scalp cooling during anthracycline containing chemotherapy depend on scalp skin temperature.
Breast. 2016; 30:105-110 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: The success of scalp cooling in preventing or reducing chemotherapy induced alopecia (CIA) is highly variable between patients undergoing similar chemotherapy regimens. A decrease of the scalp skin temperature seems to be an important factor, but data on the optimum temperature reached by scalp cooling to prevent CIA are lacking. This study investigated the relation between scalp skin temperature and its efficacy to prevent CIA.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this explorative study, scalp skin temperature was measured during scalp cooling in 62 breast cancer patients undergoing up to six cycles of anthracycline containing chemotherapy. Scalp skin temperature was measured by using two thermocouples at both temporal sides of the head. The primary end-point was the need for a wig or other head covering.
RESULTS: Maximal cooling was reached after 45 min and was continued for 90 min after chemotherapy infusion. The scalp skin temperature after 45 min cooling varied from 10 °C to 31 °C, resulting in a mean scalp skin temperature of 19 °C (SEM: 0,4). Intrapersonal scalp skin temperatures during cooling were consistent for each chemotherapy cycle (ANOVA: P = 0,855). Thirteen out of 62 patients (21%) did not require a wig or other head covering. They appeared to have a significantly lower mean scalp skin temperature (18 °C; SEM: 0,7) compared to patients with alopecia (20 °C; SEM: 0,5) (P = 0,01).
CONCLUSION: The efficacy of scalp cooling during chemotherapy is temperature dependent. A precise cut-off point could not be detected, but the best results seem to be obtained when the scalp temperature decreases below 18 °C. TRIALREGISTER.

Young A, Arif A
The use of scalp cooling for chemotherapy-induced hair loss.
Br J Nurs. 2016 May 26-Jun 8; 25(10):S22, S24-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Chemotherapy-induced hair loss is a common and distressing side effect of cancer therapy and is one of the major unmet challenges in cancer management. Scalp cooling can prevent chemotherapy-induced hair loss in some cancer patients with solid tumours receiving certain chemotherapy regimens. Recent evidence indicates that this technique does not increase the risk of scalp metastasis. A reduction in post-chemotherapy infusion duration of scalp cooling and the advancement in cool cap technology may assist clinicians in promoting scalp cooling to cancer patients. This article discusses recent research, scalp cooling guidelines, products available and implications for nurses and their organisations in providing scalp cooling. It also considers recent advancements in identifying genes associated with chemotherapy-induced hair loss and international research collaborations including a registry and a 'chemotherapy-induced hair loss action group'--all striving to improve the patient experience of chemotherapy-induced hair loss.

Gunawan S, Broeke CT, Ven Pv, et al.
Parental Experiences with Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia among Childhood Cancer Patients in Indonesia.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2016; 17(4):1717-23 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: This study assessed parental experiences with chemotherapy-induced alopecia among children with cancer treated at an Indonesian academic hospital.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Fifty parents of childhood cancer patients were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires.
RESULTS: The moment that hair fell out was the moment that parents (84%) had to admit their child had cancer. Alopecia was a traumatizing painful experience (46%). Active strategies to hide alopecia, mainly hats, were used by 66% of children, while 34% never covered their bald head. If money had not been an issue, 40% would use another strategy. Alopecia made children limit outdoor daily activities (78%) and engagement with others (60%). Significantly more children from high-educated (95%) than low-educated (60%) parents received sympathy from other people (P=0.012). Significantly more Christian (29%) than Muslim (0%) families confirmed that alopecia lowered the quality of life (P=0.046). Most parents (82%) had no prior plans about alopecia management, yet for significantly more girls (26%) than boys (0%) such plans existed (P=0.044). Parents received most information about alopecia from other parents (66%). Parents (92%) needed more alopecia education from doctors. Of all school-attending children, 53% were bullied and 47% did not want to attend school due to alopecia. Significantly more high-educated than low-educated families received pity from teachers and pupils (94% vs. 0%, P=0.004), and acceptance by pupils (81% vs. 0%, P=0.021).
CONCLUSIONS: Alopecia is a severe, far-stretching side-effect of chemotherapy with physical, psychological and social consequences for children and parents. Parents should be better informed about occurrence and impact of alopecia. Extra attention is required to facilitate children's return to school. Health- care providers should facilitate optimal supportive care through open dialogue and provision of educational materials for parents, children and their community.

Trusson D, Pilnick A
The Role of Hair Loss in Cancer Identity: Perceptions of Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia Among Women Treated for Early-Stage Breast Cancer or Ductal Carcinoma in Situ.
Cancer Nurs. 2017 Mar/Apr; 40(2):E9-E16 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The trauma of chemotherapy-induced alopecia is well documented. However, less is known about how the stereotypical cancer identity affects social interactions.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to explore women's experiences of hair loss resulting from breast cancer treatment, from a sociological perspective.
METHODS: Twenty-four women who had been treated for early-stage breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ were interviewed. References to hair (loss) were isolated from their narratives.
RESULTS: Findings confirm previous research that hair loss can be traumatic. The stigma attached to both having a cancer patient identity and nonconformity with norms of appearance means that women must decide how much to reveal and to whom. An unexpected finding was that distressing experiences were reported by some women who had not lost their hair.
CONCLUSIONS: Hair is important to identity; therefore, there are implications for social interactions whether women decide to disguise their hair loss or not. There may also be implications for women who do not lose their hair because they fail to conform to the stereotypical appearance of the bald cancer patient. Future research should consider the role of stereotypes in patient experiences.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Nurses should provide sufficient information and support to prepare patients for the impact on self-perception and social interactions when facing hair loss. Also, patients should be forewarned about the possible implications of not conforming to the cancer stereotype. In addition, greater education among the wider population about the possible side effects of cancer treatments may prevent women feeling stigmatized while already undergoing a stressful experience.

Shaw J, Baylock B, O'Reilly A, et al.
Scalp cooling: a qualitative study to assess the perceptions and experiences of Australian patients with breast cancer.
Support Care Cancer. 2016; 24(9):3813-20 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Chemotherapy-induced hair loss is a common and distressing side effect. Scalp cooling is increasingly being used to reduce this hair loss. The purpose of this study was to explore patients' perceptions and experience of scalp cooling.
METHODS: Seventeen Australian women with a diagnosis of breast cancer participated in a focus group (n = 4) or a semi-structured interview (n = 3). Both scalp-cooled and non-scalp-cooled participant views were sought. Participant perceptions and experiences of scalp cooling were discussed as part of patients' overall chemotherapy experience and a thematic analysis conducted.
RESULTS: Five themes emerged from the data: (1) scalp cooling in the context of treatment decision-making discussions, (2) hair loss expectations vs. experiences, (3) treatment-related expectations vs. experiences, (4) the promise of faster regrowth and (5) satisfaction with scalp cooling and future scalp cooling decision-making considerations. Information during treatment decision-making was the primary factor that influenced whether patient expectations were met. Faster regrowth was a motivator to continue treatment. Efficacy and tolerability of scalp cooling influenced future hypothetical treatment decision-making for both scalp-cooled and non-scalp-cooled participants.
CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the first in-depth exploration of patient attitudes to scalp cooling. The results highlight a need for accurate information regarding efficacy and tolerability as well as hair care information to assist patients with their treatment decision-making.

Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes only; it can not be used in diagnosis or treatment.

[Home]    Page last updated: 01 September, 2019     © CancerIndex, Established 1996