Prevention of Alopecia in Medical and Interventional Chemotherapy Patients

    Adam A Dmytriw, W. Morzycki, Peter J. Green
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    TLDR Cold caps and certain drugs may help prevent or reduce hair loss from chemotherapy, but more research is needed.
    The 2015 review examined strategies to prevent chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA), a common and distressing side effect of cancer treatment. The review excluded pediatric populations and those receiving head and neck radiation therapy. It found that physical therapies like cold caps could be more effective and safer than scalp tourniquets, while pharmacologic therapies such as cyclosporine showed potential in preventing hair loss or promoting regrowth. The document also discussed the role of interleukin-1 (IL-1), epithelial growth factor (EGF), and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) in hair follicle development, with IL-1 preventing CIA in animal studies. Minoxidil, although not effective in preventing CIA from harsh chemotherapy agents, helped shorten the duration of alopecia. Antioxidants like ß-carotenes, melatonin, and vitamin E also showed potential due to their protective effects against oxidative damage. Combination therapy, especially minoxidil with cold caps, appeared promising in reducing alopecia and aiding regrowth without increasing scalp metastasis risk, but more extensive and comprehensive trials are needed. The review concluded that while the evidence was not yet conclusive, a combination of mechanical and chemical interventions might offer the best approach to mitigate CIA, underscoring the need for further research.
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