Cancer chemotherapy treatment often leads to hair loss, which may be prevented by cooling the scalp during drug administration. The current hypothesis for the hair preservative effect of scalp cooling is that cooling of the scalp skin reduces blood flow (perfusion) and chemical reaction rates. Reduced perfusion leads to less drugs available for uptake, whereas the reduced temperature decreases uptake of and damage by chemotherapy. Altogether, less damage is exerted to the hair cells, and the hair is preserved. However, the two mechanisms in the hypothesis have not been quantified yet. To quantify the effect of reduced drug damage caused by falling temperatures, we investigated the effect of local drug concentration and local tissue temperature on hair cell damage using in vitro experiments on keratinocytes. Cells were exposed for 4 h to a wide range of doxorubicin concentrations. During exposure, cells were kept at different temperatures. Cell viability was determined after 3 d using a viability test. Control samples were used to establish a concentration–viability curve. Results show that cell survival is significantly higher in cooled cells (T<22° C) than in non-cooled cells (T=37° C), but no significant differences are visible between T=10° C and T=22° C. Based on this result and previous work, we can conclude that there is an optimal temperature in scalp cooling. Further cooling will only result in unnecessary discomfort for the patient and should therefore be avoided.
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Vol. 44 • No. 3