Treatment for Alopecia

James P. Stevenson
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Question
Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
The literature is full of abstracts related to various forms of scalpcooling to prevent or minimize alopecia during chemotherapy. None of myoncologists seem interested in this.

Can you provide any up-to-date info on this?  
Thanks,
F.D.


Answer
James P. Stevenson, MD Section Editor for the OncoLink Medical Oncology/Chemotherapy Menu, responds:

Dear F.D.,
Thank you for your interest and question.

There are various methods to decrease blood flow to the scalp in an effort to prevent hair loss (alopecia) during chemotherapy, including everything from patients tying homemade tourniquets around their heads to placing icepacks in this area. There are also companies that produce reusable ice "rings" for the same purpose.

However, the effect of such devices on the development of metastases to the scalp and central nervous system is unkown but theoretically could be detrimental. Therefore, we do not recommend the use of such methods to patients.

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