NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Most dermatologists are aware of the psychological harm chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA) can have on cancer patients, yet many lack knowledge about scalp cooling techniques for prevention of CIA.

CIA can be distressing, with research suggesting that up to 14% of patients reject curative cancer therapies due to fear of hair loss. Scalp cooling (SC) has been shown to reduce CIA, but its use has been limited.

To identify barriers in SC use, Dr. Kristen Lo Sicco of NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City and colleagues assessed dermatologists’ knowledge, practices and attitudes toward SC.

They sent an anonymous online survey to 82 board-certified dermatologists; 54 responded (67% women).

Eighteen dermatologists (33%) said they routinely counsel patients on SC prior to chemotherapy, the researchers report in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Twelve (22%) were very familiar with SC, 36 (67%) had heard of SC but were not very familiar with it and six (11%) were not familiar with SC.

Forty-one dermatologists (76%) expressed interest in SC education; 28 (58%) indicated “sometimes” being in favor of SC for eligible patients.

Among 34 respondents affiliated with a cancer center, 74% did not know the SC therapies available at their center; 65% said they would “probably” or “definitely” support their institution providing SC systems.

The most common reasons cited for opposing SC systems were efficacy (33%), safety concerns (17%) and side effects (17%).

Most respondents (82%) “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed that the effects of hair loss on cancer patients are a major concern; 80% believed dermatologists should advocate for SC use.

Understanding dermatologists’ knowledge of and attitudes towards scalp cooling is important to develop future initiatives to increase scalp cooling advocacy, the researchers say.

“Multi-disciplinary collaboration between dermatologists and oncologists could facilitate earlier SC education, increasing patient utilization, satisfaction and quality of life,” they add.

This research had no specific funding.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3idmGLJ Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, online March 9, 2022.

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