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Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia


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Few dermatologic conditions carry as much emotional distress as chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA). The prerequisite for successful development of strategies for CIA prevention is the understanding of the pathobiology of CIA. The incidence and severity of CIA are variable and related to the particular chemotherapeutic protocol. CIA is traditionally categorized as acute diffuse hair loss caused by dystrophic anagen effluvium; however, CIA presents with different clinical patterns of hair loss. When an arrest of mitotic activity occurs, obviously numerous and interacting factors influence the shedding pattern. The major approach to minimize CIA is by scalp cooling. Unfortunately, most published data on scalp cooling are of poor quality. Several experimental approaches to the development of pharmacologic agents are under evaluation and include drug-specific antibodies, hair growth cycle modifiers, cytokines and growth factors, antioxidants, inhibitors of apoptosis, and cell-cycle and proliferation modifiers. Ultimately, the protection should be selective to the hair follicle; for example, topical application, such that the anticancer efficacy of chemotherapy is not hampered. Among the few agents that have been evaluated so far in humans, AS101 and minoxidil were able to reduce the severity or shorten the duration of CIA, but could not prevent CIA.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Zurich.

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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