We are always prepared to address every bodily concern you may have when fighting cancer. Regardless of whether it is during the initial diagnostic stages, the post-treatment stages, or when dealing with the side-effects of treatment. Studies have shown that hair loss is one of the most upsetting chemotherapy-induced side effects for female cancer patients who may suffer from depression and immense psychological pressure on discovering their hair loss, which negatively impacts their quality of life.
Nonetheless, cryotherapy may help prevent hair loss that results from certain types of chemotherapy drugs. This includes the British-made PAXMAN scalp cooling system, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States and certified by the European Union with CE marking. Since these cold cap systems arrived in the 1970s, the PAXMAN system alone has helped over 100,000 cancer patients in 32 countries worldwide reduce their hair loss problems.
As research has revealed, more than half the female cancer patients that had cryotherapy lost fewer than 50% of their hair when receiving chemotherapy. The side-effects observed were likewise milder and were usually only short term. This has made it an increasingly popular option for chemotherapy patients.
Chemotherapy itself, targets and curbs the growth of rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells, such that the growth of tumours is suppressed. Because hair also is one of the fastest dividing types of cells in the human body, it is also affected by chemotherapy. By around 2 to 3 weeks into chemotherapy, patients may begin to observe hair loss. Before hair begins falling out, your scalp may feel itchy or irritated. The severity of hair loss varies according to each patient, and not all chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss. Upon suspension of the chemotherapy, your hair may quickly resume growth. Apart from the hair on your scalp, hair in other forms, on the body, arms, legs, chest, pubic region or even around the eyes may also be affected. As scalp cooling only works on the hair on your head, other body hair may still fall out.
By using the PAXMAN’s scalp cooling system, the scalp’s temperature can be lowered and kept at 18°C by the cold cap worn by the patient. The cap is worn before, during and after the treatment. The cooler temperature leads to the contraction of blood vessels in the scalp, thus constricting the blood flow to hair follicles by between 60 – 80%. As such, fewer chemotherapy drugs reach the scalp, thus reducing the damage to hair follicles. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of cryotherapy depends on a wide range of factors, including the type of chemotherapy drug in use, the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient’s age, hair type, and their overall health.
Currently, scalp cooling treatment is only effective when used with certain types of chemotherapy drugs, and the effect varies from person to person. Before starting scalp cooling, patients should talk with their doctors and nurses to learn more.
Normally, the hair of cancer patients returns to normal in about 4 to 12 months after chemotherapy. Hair type may not be the same as before when hair begins to regrow. For example, patients with straight hair may grow curly hair at first, which with time will return to normal.
Patients commonly experience a tingly scalp when hair first starts to grow, it is thus essential to clean the scalp regularly. Here are some tips for daily cleaning: