Scientists make huge chemotherapy breakthrough

For sufferers of breast cancer who suffer again at the hands of chemotherapy, this could be one major discovery.

The suffering that comes with people who must endure chemotherapy due to a breast cancer diagnosis can often be acute, and one of the most difficult aspects of the regimen is losing all of your hair. However, a new clinical trial for a cooling cap system that was approved only last year proved so stunningly successful at preventing hair loss that it was halted midway in order to release the results immediately.

The results, presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, showed that this new cooling cap saved the hair of 51 percent of the 95 patients who used it, and the 47 breast cancer patients who were in the control group and didn’t use it lost their hair in every single case.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration signed off on the new cooling cap system back in December 2015. If the cooling cap system can continue to show these results, it could take away a major part of suffering for a lot of breast cancer patients.

The reason why people lose their hair after chemotherapy is that chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cells, which are a hallmark of cancer. But hair cells also rapidly divide and they get caught in the crossfire. The cooling cap system works by reducing the amount of chemotherapy agent that reaches the hair follicles.

“We are pleased to see a product for breast cancer patients that can minimize chemotherapy-induced hair loss and contribute to the quality of life of these individuals,” said William Maisel, M.D., M.P.H., acting director of the Office of Device Evaluation in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Managing the side effects of chemotherapy is a critical component to overall health and recovery.”

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