In December 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug that focuses on breast cancer patients. A team of researchers has developed a cooling cap system that cancer patients could use in order to keep their hair while undergoing chemotherapy.
However, about halfway through the trials, the tests were stopped. Not because the drug proved inefficient. If something, it was because the results were, in fact, extraordinary. During the clinical trials, 51 percent of a grand total of 95 breast cancer patients who were using the drug while going through four cycles of chemotherapy experienced minimal hair loss. On the other hand, the remaining patients who didn’t use the cooling cap system lost their hair.
So far, everything went according to plan. Moreover, if the results hold up in the long run, the cooling cap system may prove to be one of the biggest breakthroughs for chemotherapy in decades.
How Chemotherapy Leads to Hair Loss
Cancer is represented by rapidly dividing cells. Chemotherapy targets these cells and ultimately kills them in an effort to cure the patient. However, hair cells also have the capacity to divide at a rapid pace. As a result, chemotherapy targets the hair cells, as well. As a consequence, the patients who undergo chemotherapy lose their hair.
How the Cooling Cap System Works
First of all, the cooling cap system prevents a certain amount of chemotherapy agent to reach the hair follicles. At the same time, wearing a cold cap leads to vasoconstriction in the scalp’s blood vessels. This means that the blood flow to the scalp is constricted, ultimately preventing the cancer-fighting drug from reaching the hair follicles.
Furthermore, as the cooling cap system is only applied to the scalp, the chemotherapy agents are able to reach the infected areas of the patient’s body, fighting against the cancerous cells.
“We are pleased to see a product for breast cancer patients that can contribute to the quality of these individuals”, says Dr. William Maisel.
Mr. Maisel is the acting director of the Office of Device Evaluation with the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. Furthermore, he adds that successfully managing the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy is, in fact, a key component is a patient’s recovery and overall health.
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