Scalp Cooling Guidance for Black Patients

Scalp cooling devices can help reduce hair loss during chemotherapy. Patients are instructed to get their hair wet or apply conditioner before putting on cooling caps. A Sept. 8 letter to the editor published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology points out that these instructions were not formulated with Black patients in mind. For instance, Black patients with tightly curled natural hair may find their hair becomes bulkier when they get it wet, potentially reducing the efficacy of the cooling cap. The authors suggest that these patients thermally straighten their hair, add grease to the hair and then lightly dampen the scalp with cold water. Meanwhile, those who have chemically straightened or relaxed their hair will be able to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the cooling cap. “We urge further research on the optimal visit protocol for use of scalp cooling devices in Black patients to prevent them from missing the potential benefit of this new technology,” the authors write.

FDA Issues Warning About Chemotherapy-Immunotherapy Combo

The combination of the immune checkpoint inhibitor Tecentriq (atezolizumab) and Abraxane, a protein-bound formulation of the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019 for treatment of people with advanced, triple-negative breast cancer whose tumors express PD-L1. On Sept. 8, 2020, the FDA warned that a trial testing Tecentriq combined with paclitaxel found that the combination was not helpful in these patients. The FDA says that health care professionals should make sure they are not substituting paclitaxel for Abraxane when they treat patients. The agency also said it would further review the trial and would communicate “any potential changes to prescribing information.”

Targeted Therapy for Lung Cancer

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Sept. 4 approved the targeted therapy Gavreto (pralsetinib) for people with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with fusions in the RET gene. This is the seco​nd targeted therapy to be approved for NSCLC patients with RET fusions. Around 2% of NSCLC patients have these tumor alterations. The FDA approved the Oncomine Dx Target Test, which tests lung cancer tumors for alterations in 23 genes, as a companion diagnostic.​​​