Highlights from

AAD 2021

American Academy of Dermatology Virtual Meeting Experience 2021

Virtual 23-25 April 2021

Emotional impact of alopecia in breast cancer survivors

Summary: 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 Lacouture (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, US) 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 minoxidil. In addition to minoxidil, Prof Lacouture’s phase I safety study demonstrated that twice daily application of topical calcitriol - a vitamin D analogue - was well tolerated and safe, and requires further investigation in phase II/III trials.3

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

  1. Lacouture M. Dermatologic conditions from estrogen inhibition in breast cancer survivors. Presented at Session F019: Women’s Health Therapeutic Hotline, American Association of Dermatologists VMX 2021, 23-25 April 2021.
  2. Freites-Martinez A, Shapiro J et al. Endocrine therapy-induced alopecia in patients with breast cancer. JAMA Dermatol. 2018;154:670-675 [full text]
  3. Lacouture M E, Dion H et al. A phase I safety study of topical calcitriol (BPM31543) for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced alopecia. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2021;186:107-114 [full text]

Top image: © kali9

Article image: @ Doucefleur

The content and interpretation of these conference highlights are the views and comments of the speakers/authors.