When women with breast cancer experience hair loss due to chemotherapy treatment, they regularly flag this up as one of the most distressing parts of their illness.
Although chemotherapy does not cause hair to fall out in every instance, it is fair to say that most women can expect to see their hair thinning to some degree. Sadly, all too often, this shedding can be somewhat extreme and naturally very upsetting.
At present, the most common way for a woman who is undergoing chemotherapy to try and avoid treatment-related hair loss is to wear a scalp-chilling device called a cold cap. While these boast very impressive success rates, they don’t work in every case and some say they are unpleasant to wear. BBC journalist Victoria Derbyshire wore a cold cap during some if not all of her chemotherapy sessions during her recent treatment for breast cancer and she did experience quite severe shedding.
Data from women with breast cancer
Because cold caps are not always successful – and also perhaps because access to a cold cap is not guaranteed – researchers at the Universities of New York and Chicago have been gathering data from women with breast cancer since 2015 in a study that is sponsored by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre.
The researchers say that they want to assess the clinical factors, genetic markers, and impact on patient health-related quality of life in order to learn more about who is at greater risk. In doing so, they state that the study will hopefully improve their understanding of how cancer patients feel about their skin, hair and nail conditions – which will, in turn, help better inform the medical profession with regards to the burden of breast cancer on patients. The researchers say it may also help them to learn how to prevent chemotherapy-related conditions.
The women who are involved in this study are having either cytotoxic chemotherapy or endocrine therapy, and a combination of physical assessments and questionnaires are being used to help the researchers amass the information they need. As a comparator, friends of the patients who are menopausal women are also being questioned. Like their friends with breast cancer, their saliva is being assessed, although the study details on the clinicaltrials.gov website does not go into details about how these saliva samples will be used.
Significant study involving 700
In total, an estimated 700 people are expected to have taken part by the time of the trial’s end in August – making this a significant study that may shed light on why some women lose more hair than others as well as a multitude of other things that will hopefully improve the quality of life for breast cancer patients.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. 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 UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.