It is well documented that cancer survivors often find the visible hair loss that tends to accompany chemotherapy treatment, one of the most traumatic parts of dealing with their illness.
As such, the news that researchers in America believe they have found a way to reduce hair loss from chemotherapy, and minimise some of its other toxic side-effects, has been well-received.
Sponge device may minimise chemo hair loss
The reason hair falls out during chemotherapy is that the drugs use to treat cancer do not necessarily differentiate between the cancerous cells they are designed to attack, and the rest of the body.
As the drugs enter the bloodstream they circulate throughout the body. When they strike the hair follicles, the effect of the medication can trigger anagen effluvium – a temporary form of hair loss.
According to animal trial findings from the University of California at Berkley and published in the ACS Central Science journal, side-effects from chemotherapy could be significantly reduced by placing a sponge-like device in a major vein – one which leads away from the location of the tumour being treated. This approach, using pigs dosed with doxorubicin, saw the sponge act like a filter, with researchers observing up to two-thirds of the toxic elements of the chemo drugs, minimising negative responses including hair loss.
The team dubbed the device the ‘chemofilter’ and claimed that, if these results can be replicated in human trials, doctors may be able to administer higher doses of chemotherapy drugs, given the toxic elements which would usually make doing so unsafe, would be largely removed.
“Literally, we’ve taken the concept out of petroleum refining and applied it to chemotherapy. Surgeons snake a wire into the bloodstream and place the sponge like a stent, and just leave it in for the amount of time you give chemotherapy, perhaps a few hours,” explained study author Professor Nitash Balsara.
Hair regrowth after chemotherapy
Currently, in cases of traditional chemotherapy, it is generally the case that patients’ hair will regrow of its own accord once chemo is finished, returning to normal within around 12 months from the last session.
It is not uncommon to find hair grows back curlier, straighter or a slightly different colour to its pre-chemo state, but this generally rights itself within a few months.
Although there is sometimes the option of using a scalp cooling system – also known as a ‘cold cap‘ – during chemo sessions so that the cold temperature deters the drugs from reaching the follicles and thus helping to prevent hairloss, this is not yet widely available.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.