What is scalp cooling?

Scalp cooling technology

During chemotherapy treatment, you may experience different side effects which include fatigue and hair loss. These can vary depending on the type and stage of cancer you have as well as the chemotherapy drug used for your treatment. Most side effects are temporary and can be treated or managed by your care team.

For many cancer patients, hair loss is a deeply emotional side effect of treatment. At Bowen Icon Cancer Centre, the Paxman Scalp Cooling system is now available as an added service for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

What is scalp cooling?

Scalp cooling technology helps to minimise hair loss associated with chemotherapy treatment. The scalp cooling system reduces the temperature of a patient’s scalp by a few degrees immediately before, during and after the administration of chemotherapy. The cooling effect reduces blood flow to hair follicles and can therefore minimise hair loss.1

How does scalp cooling work?

A soft, lightweight silicone cap, often known as a cooling cap or ‘cold cap’, is placed on the patient’s head and is connected to a small, compact refrigeration system. The patient’s scalp temperature is lowered by circulating a special cooling liquid through the cold cap to reduce blood flow and the amount of chemotherapy drug reaching hair follicle cells. The cooling cap is maintained at a constant temperature throughout the treatment period, reducing the activity of hair follicles and making it less appealing to chemotherapy drugs which target cells that divide rapidly. 1

Patients wear the cooling cap for approximately two and a half hours each treatment session. The scalp cooling treatment starts approximately 30 minutes prior to the administration of chemotherapy and the cooling cap is worn up to 90 minutes post-treatment.

Is scalp cooling effective and safe?

Scalp cooling treatment can be used for patients with breast and other solid tumours that are being treated with certain chemotherapy drugs such as docetaxel, cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin. The effectiveness of this treatment varies from patient-to-patient, depending on type of treatment and cancer, and other factors such as prior chemotherapy regimens, age and ethnicity. Scalp cooling treatment is safe and does not increase the risk of cancer relapse in the skin or scalp.

Patients will need to confirm with their treating doctor if they are suitable to use the scalp cooling system.

Helpful links


For a full list of references, click here.
  1. American Cancer Society. (2018). Cooling Caps. (Scalp Hypothermia) to Reduce Hair Loss.Retrieved on 24 July 2020 from https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/hair-loss/cold-caps.html

Become a patient

Find out how to become a patient at Bowen Icon Cancer Centre or request more information from an experienced member of our team.
Become a patient

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. There are many different kinds of medicines and treatment plans.
Learn more

Managing side effects

Allied health services play a significant role in getting you through treatment and meeting your recovery goals.
Learn more
View all


Contact us

  • 04 896 0200
  • Level B3, Bowen Specialist Medical Centre 98 Churchill Drive Crofton Downs Wellington 6035