Prevention and Treatment of Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia: What Is Available and What Is Coming?

Curr Oncol. 2023 Mar 25;30(4):3609-3626. doi: 10.3390/curroncol30040275.


Millions of new cancer patients receive chemotherapy each year. In addition to killing cancer cells, chemotherapy is likely to damage rapidly proliferating healthy cells, including the hair follicle keratinocytes. Chemotherapy causes substantial thinning or loss of hair, termed chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA), in approximately 65% of patients. CIA is often ranked as one of the most distressing adverse effects of chemotherapy, but interventional options have been limited. To date, only scalp cooling has been cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent CIA. However, several factors, including the high costs not always covered by insurance, preclude its broader use. Here we review the current options for CIA prevention and treatment and discuss new approaches being tested. CIA interventions include scalp cooling systems (both non-portable and portable) and topical agents to prevent hair loss, versus topical and oral minoxidil, photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT), and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, among others, to stimulate hair regrowth after hair loss. Evidence-based studies are needed to develop and validate methods to prevent hair loss and/or accelerate hair regrowth in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, which could significantly improve cancer patients' quality of life and may help improve compliance and consequently the outcome of cancer treatment.

Keywords: bimatoprost; minoxidil; photobiomodulation therapy; scalp cooling.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / chemically induced
  • Alopecia / drug therapy
  • Alopecia / prevention & control
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Cryotherapy
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • United States


  • Antineoplastic Agents