Scientists may have made one of the biggest chemotherapy discoveries of this century.
Scientists may have just discovered something big when it comes to chemotherapy that could drastically improve the quality of lives for people with breast cancer who have to go through it. A new clinical trial for a cooling cap system that was approved just last year was halted midway because the results were so extraordinary: 51 percent of the 95 breast cancer patients who used it and went through four cycles of chemotherapy were able to keep their hair, versus absolutely none of the 47 patients in the control who group who didn’t use it.
The results were presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. The drug was approved by the U.S. Food an Drug Administration in December 2015. If the results hold up and the cooling cap system earns widespread use, it would represent one of the biggest breakthroughs for chemotherapy in a very long time.
Chemotherapy works by targeting rapidly dividing cells, which is how cancer works. But unfortunately, hair cells also divide very quickly, and end up being targeted as well, which is why so many people on chemotherapy go bald. The cooling cap would work by reducing the amount of chemotherapy agent sent to 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, in a statement from the FDA. “Managing the side effects of chemotherapy is a critical component to overall health and recovery.”