Presented by: Prof. Mario Lacouture, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre

As advances in breast cancer therapies have improved survival, novel therapeutics have been introduced for a variety of dermatologic conditions. Not surprisingly, these therapies cause adaptions of skin, hair, and nails. Studies have shown that these effects can significantly affect quality of life and influence the self-image.

Chemotherapy-induced alopecia has an emotional impact on breast cancer patients. For most women, facing alopecia is the most traumatic and stressful adverse event. Prof. Mario Lacoutures (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, USA) explained that mild hair loss is as impactful as losing the hair completely [1]. It is, therefore, no surprise that permanent alopecia has been associated with depression and anxiety.

Scalp cooling is the most successful therapy in preventing and reducing chemotherapy-induced alopecia. This technique reduces the scalp’s blood flow, resulting in a decreased uptake of cytotoxic therapy by the hair follicles. It was shown to be an effective and safe strategy. Prof. Lacouture presented his study on the better understanding of dermatologic adverse events [2], which aimed to provide adequate support to breast cancer patients. Results demonstrated an improvement in 80% of women with endocrine therapy-induced alopecia under topical minoxidin. In addition to minoxidine, Prof. Lacouture’s phase 1 safety study demonstrated that twice daily application of topical calcitriol -a vitamin D analog- was well tolerated and safe, and requires further investigation in phase 2/3 trials [3].

  1. Lacouture M. Dermatologic Conditions from Estrogen Inhibition in Breast Cancer Survivors, session F019: Women’s Health Therapeutic Hotline. AAD VMX 2021, 23-25 April.
  2. Freites-Martinez A et al. JAMA Dermatol. 2018;154(6):670-675.
  3. Lacouture ME et al. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2021;186(1):107-114.