Purpose: The risk of scalp metastases in patients using scalp cooling for preservation of hair during chemotherapy has been a concern but is poorly described.
Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies was undertaken to evaluate the effect of scalp cooling versus no scalp cooling on the risk of scalp metastasis in patients treated for breast cancer with chemotherapy. Electronic databases, journal specific, and hand searches of articles identified were searched. Patients were matched based on disease, treatment, lack of metastatic disease, and sex.
Results: A total of 24 full-text articles were identified for review. Of these articles, ten quantified the incidence of scalp metastasis with scalp cooling over time. For scalp cooling, 1959 patients were evaluated over an estimated mean time frame of 43.1 months. For no scalp cooling, 1238 patients were evaluated over an estimated mean time frame of 87.4 months. The incidence rate of scalp metastasis in the scalp cooling group versus the no scalp cooling group was 0.61% (95% CI 0.32-1.1%) versus 0.41% (95% CI 0.13-0.94%); P = 0.43.
Conclusion: The incidence of scalp metastases was low regardless of scalp cooling. This analysis suggests that scalp cooling does not increase the incidence of scalp metastases.
Keywords: Breast cancer; Scalp cooling; Scalp metastasis.