Cancer Blog

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Hair loss and cancer

Aug 3, 2022

Hair loss is a common side effect of some cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, or a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant. These cancer treatments can harm the cells that help hair grow.

For some people this can be a very distressing side effect.  Read on for some very useful information about hair loss and if the Scalp Cooling Cap is appropriate for you.

The use of scalp cooling or ‘cold caps’ has been shown to effectively reduce the incidence of hair loss for some cancer patients.


What causes hair loss?

Hair loss or alopecia is commonly associated with cancer and chemotherapy. However, only some chemotherapy drugs* and specific combinations of chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss or hair thinning. Chemotherapy works by targeting all rapidly dividing cells in the body. As hair is the second fastest dividing cell, some chemotherapy drugs will affect hair cells, resulting in hair loss.


When will hair start to fall out?

Hair loss usually occurs a few weeks after starting treatment but it is different for everyone.


How does the Scalp Cooling Cap work?

The damage that chemotherapy causes to the hair follicle can in some cases be alleviated by using a scalp cooling cap, also known as a ‘cold cap’. It works by reducing the temperature of the scalp by a few degrees immediately before, during and after the administration of chemotherapy. This in turn reduces the blood flow to hair follicles which may prevent or minimize hair loss.

Scalp Cooling Cap

Will it work for me?

Successful scalp cooling depends on many factors and results will vary for everyone. Research and studies have shown that scalp cooling can be effective across a wide range of chemotherapy regimens. Canopy patients with solid tumours receiving the following drugs may request to use the cool cap:

·         Cyclophosphamide*

·         Docetaxel*

·         Doxorubicin*

·         Paclitaxel*

·         Epirubicin*

The drug regimens AC, TC and FEC contain different combinations of the above drugs.

The cold cap does not work for everyone and is not suitable to use with all types of cancer. It cannot be used with any Haematological diseases including Myeloma, Leukaemia and Lymphomas.


What does it cost and will my medical insurance cover the costs?

Each cooling treatment will cost $500. You will need to check your individual medical insurance policy to see if you have cover. Success rates vary from patient to patient for many different reasons.

Talk to your Canopy Specialist or Specialist Nurse to find out if the Scalp Cooling Cap is right for you.


There are also lots of video resources on YouTube.

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