Chemotherapy is the procedure that uses drugs to halt the increase of cancer cells. This is done either by destroying the cells or by preventing them from splitting. It can be administered by mouth, injection, or infusion, or on the skin. This will depend on the nature and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given solely or with other procedures, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or biologic therapy.
The loss of hair has been a vital reason for women evading chemotherapy in the country. In India, approximately 1.5 lakh, new instances of breast cancer are recorded every year. Approximately 70,000 of these women succumb to the illness, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
“The loss of hair is a problem viewed with stigma. We heard of women facing a lot of difficulties and not coming for chemotherapy because of this stigma,” said Dr Jyoti
Tata Memorial Hospital has been consolidating this technology for the past two years on an experimental basis. The US Food and Drug Administration authorised the new scalp cooling technology being practised along with chemotherapy.
The FDA approved scalp cooling technology in the USA around 2015. This technology moderates the scalp and decreases the blood flow to hair follicles. This in turn diminishes the influence of the drugs to the hair follicle.
The cooling cap is kept at low, refrigerated temperatures. These cooling temperatures limit the drugs taxane and anthracycline from entering the hair follicles.
Dignicap, a Swedish firm, and Paxman, a British company are the FDA- approved organisations of the scalp cooling facilities. They have cooling caps which have to be replaced every 30 minutes and refrigerated, which are added before the chemotherapy sessions. There is also a usual post-cooling time.
Currently, taxane and anthracycline are the two exclusive drug treatments applied during chemotherapy for which the scalp cooling technology and the decline in alopecia are useful. The cooling technology has not been actively experimented for other medications utilised for chemotherapy. In studies carried across the world, treatment with taxane presents a better rate for the preservation of hair over treatment with an anthracycline.
Results Of Tata Memorial Hospital’s Clinical Trials
Tata Memorial Hospital adopted the Paxman cooling facilities for its clinical trial with 51 women undergoing breast cancer treatment.
Dr Jyoti Bajpai headed the study with 34 women availing of the cooling technology while 17 women were a member of the control team. The inquiry was administered to evaluate and correlate the relationship of women undergoing alopecia (induced baldness), hair retention, and hair regrowth through technology.
This technology moderates the scalp and decreases the blood flow to hair follicles. This in turn diminishes the influence of the drugs to the hair follicle.
The inquiry witnessed 56 percent hair retention and 85 percent hair regrowth as opposed to 100 percent loss and 12 percent regrowth. The conclusions confirmed the global studies where trials with taxane worked better than trials with an anthracycline.
Stigma Surrounding Hair Loss During Chemotherapy
“The loss of hair is a problem viewed with stigma. We heard of women facing a lot of difficulties and not coming for chemotherapy because of this stigma,” said Dr Jyoti to BOOM.
Dr Jyoti further affirmed that the treatment will be affordable. The hospital will be taking a call on rolling out the treatment soon.