The use of cooling caps has allowed patients to save much of their hair while undergoing treatments. They're very popular in Europe and are now becoming more popular in the U-S.
Two studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association offer some of the first clinical proof of their effectiveness. In one study, approximately two-thirds of breast cancer patients lost less than half their hair; in the other study, approximately half of breast cancer patients lost less than half their hair. The New York Times reports five percent of patients kept all their hair.
The differences in effectiveness between the studies could have to do with the cooling caps being used, the medical centers applying the caps, and the chemo drugs involved, according to Health Day News. The studies were funded by two different companies that manufacture cooling caps.
Cooling caps are affixed to patients' heads before, during, and after chemo; a machine cycles cooling liquid through the caps.
While researchers aren't exactly sure how the caps prevent hair loss, one theory is they restrict blood vessels in the scalp, reducing the amount of chemo that reaches the hair follicles
.About half of breast cancer patients say hair loss is the most daunting part of chemo, and eight percent say they would turn down chemo in order to keep their hair.
One breast cancer survivor who used a cooling cap says it has psychological benefits. She tells the Times that losing their hair makes people "think they're sicker than they actually are."Find out more about the cooling caps HERE.
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