Scalp Cooling With Dignicap May Reduce Alopecia During Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

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For some patients, scalp cooling with the Dignicap proved an effective means of preventing chemotherapy-induced alopecia.
For some patients, scalp cooling with the Dignicap proved an effective means of preventing chemotherapy-induced alopecia.
The following article features coverage from the 2018 Oncology Nursing Society's Annual Conference in Washington, DC. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor's conference coverage. 

WASHINGTON, DC — Dignicap may be an effective preventative measure against chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA) in patients with cancer, according to an oral presentation given at the 2018 Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Annual Congress.

“Alopecia is highly publicized as potential adverse effect from chemotherapy, and despite this, alopecia continues to be widely viewed in the clinical world as a cosmetic issue instead of a true chemotoxicity that can lead to significant psychosocial adverse events,” said Kaddie Lopez, BSN, RN, OCN, PHN, NE-BC, a clinical nurse manager at the City of Hope National Medical Center.  Some reports state that 8% of patients refuse treatment due to potential alopecia. 

For this study, researchers enrolled 31 patients with breast cancer who would receive Dignicap treatment from the frontline infusion staff prior to chemotherapy instead of receiving the service from an independent company. While hair loss with chemotherapy is inevitable, Dignicap is thought to reduce hair loss by up to 50%. Of the study participants, 30 patients were women. 

The Common Toxicity Criteria scale was used to evaluate hair loss and subjective interviews were conducted to discern how patients perceived treatment efficacy.

After 12 months, 64% and 13% of patients were assessed to have grade 1 or less alopecia and grade 2 alopecia, respectively, post treatment. Twenty-two percent to 23% of patients were unable to complete the therapy, citing excessive hair loss or discomfort from the scalp cooling. 

Findings from the study indicated various factors affected outcomes and patient perceptions of hair loss. Patients with thinner hair achieved better outcomes despite increased discomfort during the intervention, and head size and shape — if preventing more complete contact with the Dignicap — led to worse outcomes. 

Lopez concluded that “FDA [clearance] has spread to all solid tumor malignancies and is gaining acceptance as symptom management.”

Reference

Lopez K. Abating alopecia: treating hair loss as a chemo toxicity in breast cancer patients (male & female). Oral presentation at: ONS 43rd Annual Congress; May 17-20, 2018; Washington, DC.
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