No effect of scalp cooling on survival among women with breast cancer

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2015 Jan;149(1):263-8. doi: 10.1007/s10549-014-3231-0. Epub 2014 Dec 16.


Scalp cooling can prevent chemotherapy-induced alopecia in some cancer patients. It is not used in all countries. No data are available regarding its impact, if any, on survival. The aim of this study was to compare overall survival according to whether or not scalp cooling was used during neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy for non-metastatic breast cancer. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 1,370 women with non-metastatic invasive breast carcinoma who received chemotherapy in the neoadjuvant or adjuvant setting. A total of 553 women who used scalp cooling came from a tertiary breast cancer clinic in Quebec City (diagnosed between 1998 and 2002) and 817 were treated in other hospitals in the province of Quebec (between 1998 and 2003) where scalp cooling was not routinely available. Overall survival of women who used scalp cooling and those who did not was compared using Cox proportional hazards models. Median follow-up for the scalp-cooled and the non-scalp-cooled groups was 6.3 years and 8.0 years, respectively. Overall mortality was no different (adjusted hazard ratio 0.89, 95 % confidence interval: 0.68-1.17, p = 0.40) among scalp-cooled women, compared to those not getting scalp cooling. Among women getting neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy for non-metastatic breast cancer, scalp cooling used to prevent chemotherapy-induced alopecia had no negative effect on survival. To our knowledge, this is the first study to compare survival of women who used scalp cooling to that of women who did not.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alopecia / chemically induced
  • Alopecia / mortality*
  • Alopecia / pathology
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Proportional Hazards Models