TC and Cold Capping: Save your hair with scalp cooling

Published: May 15, 2024

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with breast cancer or another type of cancer, you might have heard your doctor mention a chemotherapy regimen called “TC.”

This abbreviation stands for two chemotherapy drugs: docetaxel (Taxotere®) and cyclophosphamide. TC is primarily prescribed for early-stage breast cancer treatment, but it can also be used to combat various other cancers, depending on individual diagnoses and treatment strategies.

We explore a little more about TC chemotherapy, it’s side effects and TC and cold capping to save your hair on chemotherapy.

What is TC?

The choice to use TC isn’t limited to just breast cancer. In some cases, doctors may recommend this regimen for other cancers as well. Every cancer journey is unique, and the recommendation for TC is based on specific clinical reasons that your healthcare provider believes will offer you the best chance at beating the disease.

Combining docetaxel (Taxotere) with cyclophosphamide in the TC regimen is to eradicate any remaining microscopic cancer cells that might have survived initial treatments. This approach aims to maximize your chances of a complete cure. Understanding why TC has been suggested for your treatment can help you feel more prepared and informed as you start this phase of your cancer journey.

A typical TC treatment plan

Undergoing TC treatment usually involves a structured schedule, typically administered in a chemotherapy day unit by a skilled chemotherapy nurse. The treatment process starts with administering docetaxel through a drip, usually taking about an hour, followed by cyclophosphamide, which may be given either as a drip or as an injection. To ensure your body is prepared for chemotherapy, blood tests are conducted before each treatment session.

The TC regimen often consists of multiple cycles, each spanning 21 days. On the first day of each cycle, you will receive both docetaxel and cyclophosphamide. After this, there is a break of 20 days before the next cycle begins. Generally, the treatment comprises up to four cycles, although the exact number can vary based on how well you respond to and tolerate the treatment.

During each cycle, the medications might be administered through one of several methods:

  • Cannula: A short, thin tube inserted into a vein in your arm or hand.
  • Central Line: A more permanent tube placed under the skin of your chest that reaches a nearby vein.
  • PICC Line: A tube inserted into a vein in your arm that extends into a chest vein.
  • Implantable Port (Portacath): A small disc placed under the skin on your chest or arm, connected to a vein.

Effectiveness of TC in cancer treatment

  • Improved survival rates: Research indicates that the TC regimen can significantly improve survival rates in patients with certain types of cancer. For instance, in early-stage breast cancer, studies have shown that TC can improve 5-year survival rates compared to treatments that do not include Taxotere.
  • Reduction in cancer relapse: Adding Taxotere to the treatment regimen has reduced the risk of cancer recurrence. This is particularly important for patients as a lower relapse rate increases the chances of long-term remission, meaning the cancer is less likely to return. In clinical trials, patients treated with TC had a lower incidence of cancer returning compared to those who received only traditional chemotherapies.
  • Broad applicability: TC has been effectively used in treating not only breast cancer but also other malignancies where docetaxel shows effectiveness. Its ability to be paired with other drugs allows oncologists to tailor the treatment to the patient’s specific needs, enhancing the overall efficacy of cancer therapy.

The research backing the use of TC highlights its role as a cornerstone in cancer treatment strategies, especially where cancer recurrence is a risk. It improves survival rates and reduces the chance of a relapse, reinforcing its importance in cancer care.

The common side effects of TC chemotherapy

TC chemotherapy, involving the drugs Taxotere and cyclophosphamide, is known for its effectiveness, but it also comes with a range of possible side effects that patients need to be aware of. These effects can vary widely from person to person; some may experience few or mild effects, while others face more challenging symptoms.

  • Hair Loss: One of TC chemotherapy’s most visible side effects is hair loss. Patients often lose hair from their head, including eyebrows, eyelashes, and other body hair. While this is usually temporary, and hair typically regrows after the treatment concludes, there are instances where hair loss could be permanent, or hair might regrow thinner.
  • Increased infection risk: Because chemotherapy can lower your white blood cell count, your risk of infection could increase, particularly 7 to 10 days after treatment. Symptoms like fever, chills, a sore throat, or cough should prompt immediate contact with your healthcare team, as these may necessitate the need for intravenous antibiotics and a potential delay in your next chemotherapy session.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Anti-sickness medications are typically prescribed to manage nausea. If you experience persistent symptoms, adjustments to your medication may be necessary.
  • Bruising or bleeding: The drugs can also reduce platelet production, which is crucial for blood clotting. Any unusual bruising or bleeding should be reported to your doctor.
  • Anaemia: Characterized by a low red blood cell count, anemia can make you feel tired and breathless. This might require a blood transfusion.
  • Tiredness: Fatigue is common, particularly in the days following treatment. Incorporating gentle exercise and sufficient rest can help alleviate this symptom.
  • Sore mouth and ulcers: The chemotherapy can irritate the lining of your mouth and throat, leading to soreness and ulcers. Regular rinsing with saline and using a soft toothbrush can help manage this discomfort.
  • Diarrhea: While usually not severe, persistent diarrhea should be discussed with your doctor for possible treatment adjustments.
  • Muscle or bone pain: This can be a side effect of Taxotere and may be managed with common pain relievers like paracetamol and ibuprofen.
  • Numbness or tingling: Peripheral neuropathy affects your ability to perform tasks like buttoning clothes or handling small objects. It’s important to report these symptoms to your healthcare provider.
  • Nail and skin changes: You might notice changes in your nails and skin, such as darkening or increased dryness. These are usually temporary and improve after treatment.

Understanding these side effects and discussing them with your cancer care team can help you manage your symptoms more effectively and maintain your quality of life during TC chemotherapy treatment.

Penguin Cold Cap has helped many patients save their hair and maintain a positive body image when receiving TC chemotherapy.

Fertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding during TC chemotherapy

Navigating fertility and family planning during TC chemotherapy requires careful consideration, as the treatment can significantly impact these aspects of your life. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Menstrual changes and menopause: Chemotherapy can cause your periods to become irregular or stop altogether due to its impact on the ovaries. While this effect is often temporary, it may become permanent for some, leading to symptoms associated with menopause, like hot flushes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. These symptoms can be distressing, but treatments are available to help manage them. It’s important to communicate any concerns with your doctor to find the most effective solutions.
  • Fertility issues: Both male and female fertility can be adversely affected by chemotherapy due to potential damage to the ovaries and testes. This may lead to temporary or permanent infertility, and for women, it could trigger premature menopause. It’s advisable to discuss fertility preservation options with your healthcare provider before starting treatment if you plan to have children in the future.
  • Pregnancy risks: Chemotherapy can harm an unborn baby and may result in the production of abnormal sperm or eggs for up to a year following treatment. Effective contraception, such as using condoms, is crucial during treatment and for a year afterwards to prevent pregnancy. If you become pregnant before or during chemotherapy, it’s essential to inform your doctor immediately.
    Breastfeeding precautions: The chemicals involved in chemotherapy can be transmitted through breast milk, posing a risk to a breastfeeding infant. Therefore, it is crucial not to breastfeed during and for some time after completing chemotherapy.

Understanding these impacts can help you make informed decisions about your health and family planning during your treatment with TC chemotherapy.

Managing hair loss during TC chemotherapy

Penguin Cold Cap PatientHair loss during chemotherapy is a significant concern for many patients. It’s more than just a physical change; it’s a visible sign to others that you are undergoing a significant health challenge. Understanding the causes of hair loss and finding ways to cope with this side effect can provide a sense of control over your treatment experience.

Why does chemo cause hair loss?

Chemotherapy drugs are designed to attack rapidly dividing cells, a common feature of cancer cells. Unfortunately, these drugs do not discriminate between cancerous and non-cancerous cells, affecting other rapidly dividing cells, such as those in your hair follicles. The impact on these follicles can lead to hair thinning or complete hair loss.

Is it possible to prevent hair loss?

How one handles hair loss is a deeply individual choice. Many patients choose to wear wigs, headscarves, or other coverings, turning a challenging situation into an opportunity to redefine their style and express their personality. Others may prefer to proudly display their baldness as a symbol of their fight and resilience against cancer.

Scalp cooling as a solution

One of the most effective and modern methods to manage hair loss is scalp cooling or cold cap therapy. This technique involves lowering the temperature of the scalp during chemotherapy treatments. By cooling the scalp, blood flow to this area is diminished, potentially lessening the amount of chemotherapy agent that reaches the hair follicles. This method can significantly decrease the severity of hair loss and has helped many patients maintain their hair.


Managing hair loss is a personal decision, and the most important thing is to find what makes you feel most comfortable and confident. Whether it’s through adopting new headwear, embracing the bald look, or using scalp-cooling techniques, there are various ways to support yourself through this aspect of chemotherapy.

How does scalp cooling stop hair loss?

Scalp cooling is a technique that employs a specialized cap filled with gel coolant, which is chilled to very low temperatures. This cap is worn before, during, and after chemotherapy sessions to trigger a series of responses in the scalp that help mitigate hair loss.

  • Vasoconstriction: The primary mechanism at work is vasoconstriction, where the cold temperature causes the blood vessels in the scalp to constrict or narrow. This is a critical response, significantly reducing blood flow to the scalp.
  • Metabolic reduction: The cold temperatures also slow down the metabolic rate of the hair follicle cells, which reduces their activity and makes them less likely to absorb and be damaged by the chemotherapy drugs.
  • Reduced chemotherapy drug exposure: Blood vessel constriction reduces the amount of chemotherapy drug that reaches hair follicles. Chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cells, like those of cancer, but unfortunately, hair follicles also consist of rapidly dividing cells. Reducing the drug delivery to these follicles has less impact on them.
  • Preservation of hair follicles: Cold caps help preserve the integrity of hair follicles by limiting chemotherapy exposure. As a result, many patients who use cold cap therapy experience minimal hair loss or, in some cases, can appear to avoid it altogether during their chemotherapy.

The effectiveness of cold caps varies by individual and can be influenced by the type and dosage of chemotherapy used. Nonetheless, many patients have reported substantial reductions in hair loss, with some even maintaining their full head of hair. This not only provides a psychological boost during what can be a challenging time but also helps patients maintain their self-image and a sense of privacy about their treatment.

Penguin Cold Caps success with TC patients

Penguin Cold Caps, the pioneering provider of cold cap therapy, has assisted thousands of chemotherapy patients in preserving their hair. This service is particularly valuable for those undergoing TC chemotherapy, helping them manage one of the most noticeable side effects: hair loss.

Penguin Cold Caps’ effectiveness is supported by personal testimonials and clinical evidence, underscoring their role in helping patients maintain not just their hair but also their normalcy and self-esteem during treatment. This form of support is crucial in providing patients with a way to feel more in control and less impacted by the visible signs of their chemotherapy.

Lulu saved 80% of her hair on a TC chemo regimen

Lulu’s Story

Lulu saved 80% of her hair on a TC chemo regimen

“I can’t thank Penguin Cold Caps enough for giving hope and courage to me and many women on this tough journey. Preserving my hair goes way beyond vanity; it played a crucial role in maintaining my mental health and identity. I refused to be defined solely as a cancer patient, and with the help of Penguin Cold Caps, my cancer journey was less painful and even empowering.”

Christine says her hair loss was so minimal no one knew she was undergoing chemo unless she told them.

Christine’s Story

Christine’s her hair loss was so minimal, no one knew she was undergoing chemo

“Apart from being a little thinner, mainly around the ears, I don’t think anyone would know that I lost any hair at all. I am thrilled with the results, and I would highly recommend giving Penguin Cold Caps a try!”

Penguin Cold Caps clinical evidence

In addition to client stories, clinical studies further evidence the effectiveness of cold capping. Research on various chemotherapy regimens, including TC, has provided evidence-based support for using cold caps to reduce hair loss. These studies are crucial, offering anecdotal assurance and scientifically verified evidence of the benefits of cold cap therapy.

87.5%-94% were satisfied with Penguin colds and 100% would recommend penguin cold caps

For more clinical evidence, see Evidence that cold cap therapy works

Penguin Cold Caps’ utility extends beyond the physical preservation of hair; it plays a crucial role in maintaining patients’ psychological well-being. The option to use cold caps represents more than a cosmetic choice—it’s a decision that can profoundly impact a person’s mental health and emotional resilience during cancer treatment.

For those considering using Penguin Cold Caps or seeking more information on their effectiveness, numerous resources and testimonials are available. These stories and studies not only highlight the potential of cold cap therapy but also offer insight and encouragement to those embarking on their own treatment journeys.

More stories from Penguin Cold Cap Patients

How to decide if cold capping is right for you

Research and Information Gathering: Start by gathering as much information as possible about cold capping, how it works, and the experiences of others who have used it. Understanding the process and potential outcomes can help set realistic expectations.

Check out Penguin Cold Caps on Facebook and Instagram, which are filled with patient stories and posts.

  • Consult with Your Healthcare Team:
    Before making any decisions, it is crucial to discuss cold capping with your oncologist or healthcare provider. They can offer invaluable insights into how cold capping might fit into your overall treatment plan and whether it’s suitable for the specific chemotherapy regimen you’ll be receiving.
  • Contact a Penguin Cold Cap Representative:
    Penguin Cold Cap representatives are knowledgeable about their product and have a wealth of experience in assisting patients through the process. They can provide detailed information about the cold capping process, the costs involved, and what you can expect during your treatment.
  • Requesting a Call Back from a Penguin Representative:
    If you’re considering cold cap therapy as part of your chemotherapy treatment, reaching out for personalized advice and support is a significant next step. Requesting a callback from a Penguin Cold Cap representative is easy and can be the first step toward a more informed decision-making process.

Request a callback today

Finding a support network

As you navigate the challenges of TC chemotherapy, finding a solid support network is invaluable. Open conversations with friends and family about your feelings, especially concerning hair loss, can lighten your emotional load. These discussions invite understanding and support and remind you that you’re not alone in this journey.

Additionally, consider joining a support group. Connecting with individuals facing similar challenges offers a unique form of solidarity and understanding. Support groups, like the Chemotherapy Support Group on Facebook, provide a space to exchange stories, share advice, and discover coping strategies that others have found helpful.

Join the Facebook Chemotherapy Support Group

Get in touch

If hair loss during TC chemotherapy concerns you, know that support is available. Consider reaching out for a conversation with a Penguin Cold Cap representative to explore how cold capping might support you during treatment.

Request a callback to talk to your local Penguin Cold Cap rep and learn more about your options for managing hair loss during chemotherapy.