Purpose: For patients, chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA) is one of the most distressing side effects of treatment. Scalp cooling can prevent or minimise CIA; the results may depend on the duration of cooling. Since a previous study on post-infusion cooling time in patients treated with docetaxel chemotherapy found no difference between 90 and 45 min, we investigated whether hair-preserving results could be maintained with a shorter post-infusion cooling time.
Methods: In this prospective, multi-centre randomised study, 134 patients who started treatment with docetaxel 75-100 mg/m(2) in a 3-weekly schedule were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to a post-infusion cooling time of 45 or 20 min. The primary end point was the need for a wig or other head covering as assessed by the patient. A visual analogue scale (VAS) with a range from 0 (not tolerable) to 10 (very tolerable) was used to measure tolerance.
Results: Scalp cooling results were similar for 45- and 20-min post-infusion cooling times. Thirty-three out of 45 patients (73 %) treated with 20 min of post-infusion cooling did not need a form of head covering, compared with 41 out of 52 patients (79 %) treated with 45 min of post-infusion cooling (p = 0.5). The procedure was well tolerated (mean visual analogue score 8.3). Six patients stopped due to intolerance during the first treatment cycle.
Conclusions: A 20-min post-infusion cooling time is effective and tolerable for patients treated with scalp cooling to prevent docetaxel-induced alopecia.
Trial registration: Trialregister.nl Identifier, NTR 1856.
Keywords: Alopecia; Chemotherapy; Docetaxel; Scalp cooling; Side effects.