Taxol & Carboplatin (Taxol/Carbo) & Cold Cap Therapy

Published: July 3, 2024

A guide for new patients

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer and starting chemotherapy can be a daunting experience. If you’ve recently been prescribed a regimen that includes Taxol (paclitaxel) and Carboplatin, typically used for ovarian cancer, it’s important to understand what to expect from your treatment, the potential side effects, and ways to manage them.

One concern many patients have is hair loss, a common side effect of chemotherapy. In this article, we will not only delve into the specifics of the Taxol and Carboplatin regimen but also introduce the concept of cold capping, a method to help preserve your hair during treatment.

Understanding your chemotherapy regimen: Taxol and Carboplatin

Taxol (Paclitaxel)
  • What it is: Taxol is a chemotherapy drug derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree. It works by inhibiting cell division, which is particularly effective against rapidly dividing cancer cells.
  • How it works: Taxol disrupts the microtubule function within cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and leading to cell death.
  • Administration: It is usually given intravenously (IV), typically delivered during two to three hour cycles depending on the specific dosage and protocol your oncologist has prescribed.
  • What it is: Carboplatin is a platinum-based chemotherapy drug that damages the DNA of cancer cells, preventing them from multiplying.
  • How it works: By binding to the DNA in cancer cells, Carboplatin causes cross-links that lead to cell death.
  • Administration: Similar to Taxol, Carboplatin is administered via IV and often given in cycles that align with Taxol treatment.

Common side effects

  • Hair loss: Both Taxol and Carboplatin can cause hair loss, with Taxol being the primary culprit. This can include hair from your scalp, eyebrows, and other body areas.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Carboplatin can cause significant nausea and vomiting, though anti-nausea medications can help manage this.
  • Fatigue: It’s common to feel unusually tired during chemotherapy, especially as treatments progress.
  • Neuropathy: Taxol may cause tingling, numbness, or pain in your hands and feet.
  • Bone marrow suppression: Both drugs can reduce the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets, increasing infection risk and causing anemia or easy bruising.

Managing Side Effects

  • Medication: Your doctor will prescribe medications to help manage nausea, pain, and other symptoms.
  • Lifestyle adjustments: Adequate rest, a balanced diet, and light exercise can help manage fatigue.
  • Support services: Counseling, support groups, and nutritional advice can provide emotional and practical support.

Introducing cold capping: A solution for hair preservation

Hair loss is a distressing side effect for many patients undergoing chemotherapy. Cold capping, or scalp cooling, is an innovative method to reduce hair loss during treatment. Here’s what you need to know:

What is cold cap therapy?

Cold capping involves wearing a special cap filled with a cold gel before, during, and after chemotherapy infusions. The cold temperature constricts the blood vessels in the scalp, reducing the amount of chemotherapy drug that reaches the hair follicles. This can significantly decrease the likelihood of hair loss.

If you want to read more about cold capping, go to What is cold cap therapy?

Are there different types of cold capping?

Yes, there are two main types of cold capping:

  • Manual Cold Caps: These are pre-cooled caps that need to be changed every 20-30 minutes to maintain the required low temperature.
  • Machine-Based Systems: These systems use a controlled cooling mechanism to keep the scalp at a constant temperature throughout the treatment session.
Does cold capping work?

Cold capping is not 100% effective, but many patients experience significantly less hair loss compared to those who do not use it – normally success rates are between 60% and 95% hair retention.

For more on success rates.

What are the disadvantages of cold capping?

Cold cold capping isn’t something you can go in to half-heartedly. You need to be committed and closely follow the instructions of your Penguin rep. If you don’t, it’s less likely to work. The things patients tell us they found most challenging are:

  • Comfort: The caps can be uncomfortable and some patients experience headaches from the cold.
  • Time commitment: You need to wear the cap for a period before, during, and after each chemotherapy session.
  • Cost: Cold capping can be expensive, and not all insurance plans cover it. However, some organizations offer financial assistance.

Preparing for chemo

Before treatment
  • Consult with your healthcare team: Discuss the details of your regimen, side effect management, and whether cold capping is suitable for you.
  • Arrange support: Organize transportation, meals, and household help for days when you might feel unwell.
  • Financial planning: Look into the costs associated with your treatment, including any supportive therapies like cold capping.
During Treatment
  • Stay hydrated and nourished: Eating small, frequent meals and staying hydrated can help manage side effects.
  • Follow medication instructions: Take prescribed medications to prevent or reduce nausea, pain, and other symptoms.
  • Monitor your health: Keep track of any side effects and report them to your healthcare team promptly.
After Treatment
  • Follow-up care: Regular check-ups are essential to monitor your recovery and manage any long-term side effects.
  • Emotional support: Dealing with cancer and chemotherapy can be emotionally challenging. Counseling, support groups, and talking with loved ones can provide much-needed support.

Final thoughts

Starting a chemotherapy regimen that includes Taxol and Carboplatin is a significant step in your cancer treatment journey. Understanding what to expect and how to manage side effects can make this experience more manageable. Cold capping offers a viable option for those concerned about hair loss, providing hope and confidence during a challenging time.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Your healthcare team, family, and friends are there to support you every step of the way. Stay informed, reach out for help when needed, and take one day at a time. Your strength and resilience will carry you through this process.

If you’ve been prescribed a different drug regimen, you can find out more here: Check your chemo regimen.

Are you thinking about cold capping?

If you’re about to embark on your chemo journey and are interested in finding out more about cold capping, why not book a call and speak to a Penguin representative in your area.

They’ll answer all your questions but won’t pressure you into making a decision. The decision to cold cap must be yours and yours alone – we know it’s not right for everyone – we just want to ensure you have all the information you need to make the right choice for you.