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Manual scalp cooling in early stage breast cancer: value of caretaker training and patient-reported experience to optimize efficacy and patient selection


Manaz Rezayee1, BS Nicole Moxon1, RN Staci Mellinger1, RN Amanda Y. Seino1 Nicole E. Fredrich1 Tracy L. Kelly1 Susan Mulligan2, MA Patrick Rossi3, MD Ijeoma Uche1, MD Walter J. Urba1, MD PHD Alison K. Conlin1, MD MPH Janet Ruzich1, DO David B. Page1, MD


Alopecia is an emotionally distressing common adverse effect of curative-intent chemotherapy in early stage breast cancer.1–6 Although machine-based scalp cooling is effective for reduction of chemotherapy-associated alopecia in early stage breast cancer, availability is geographically limited.7–11 Manual cold-cap systems may also be effective and are available regardless of geographic location.12–14 We evaluated the feasibility of caretaker-administered cold-cap efficacy following structured standardized training, and utilized patient-reported subjective outcomes to develop a clinical tool to facilitate patient selection.

Patients and Methods:

A small pilot study (n=10) was conducted to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of manual cold capping. Key eligibility criteria included: 1) no hair loss at baseline; 2) no pre-existing scalp condition; 3) planned curative-intent chemotherapy for early stage breast cancer and 4) availability of caretaker(s). Participants received standardized training and then performed the cold-cap procedure without assistance. The primary endpoint was post-treatment hair retention using Dean’s alopecia scale, with success defined as


Of the evaluable patients, 80% (n=8/10) met the primary efficacy endpoint (Dean’s scale 0-2) with 20% (n=2/10) trial failures due to pre-mature discontinuation. Manual cold-capping was worthwhile to 90% of patients (Was it Worth It? Questionnaire) and associated with favorable PROs. Patient interviews identified a number of themes shared by almost all patients, which were subsequently used to develop a questionnaire to aid patient-directed decision-making on whether to pursue manual cold-capping.


This study affirms the safety and efficacy of manual cold-capping to reduce alopecia and demonstrates the importance of proper training and education to maximize efficacy. It also highlights the considerable costs and effort associated with cold-capping. Selected patients with early stage breast cancer may benefit subjectively from cold capping while the proposed clinical instrument can be used to facilitate an informed discussion between patient and provider.




Graduate Medical Education


Earle A. Chiles Research Institute

Conference / Event Name

Academic Achievement Day, 2020


Earle A. Chiles Research Institute Fellowship Program

Manual Scalp Cooling in Early Stage Breast Cancer: Value of Caretaker Training and Patient-Reported Experience to Optimize Efficacy and Patient Selection

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Oncology Commons