Supportive cryotherapy: A review from head to toe

Kunal C. Kadakia, Shaina A. Rozell, Anish A. Butala, Charles L. Loprinzi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Context Conventional chemotherapy leads to multiple adverse mucocutaneous complications such as oral mucositis, alopecia, ocular toxicity, and onycholysis. Limited pharmacologic interventions are available for preventing these clinical problems. Objectives This study aimed to critically review the role of cryotherapy (regional hypothermia) for alleviating these adverse symptoms. Methods A narrative review was performed, with an emphasis on randomized controlled trials. A comprehensive search using PubMed, Ovid, Embase, and MEDLINE® was completed. References of all cited articles also were reviewed. Data from the review were composed of articles published between 1970 and May 2013. Results Available evidence suggests that regional hypothermia decreases the burden of chemotherapy-related oral mucositis, alopecia, ocular toxicity, and onycholysis. The major limitations of studies include the absence of blinded control groups and variable clinical end points. Conclusion Regional hypothermia decreases the burden of these four chemotherapy-induced complications and is well tolerated. More research is needed to determine what subgroups of cancer patients are most likely to respond to different types of regional hypothermia, the ideal duration of cooling needed, and further improve the ease of use of the cooling devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1100-1115
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of pain and symptom management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Cryotherapy
  • alopecia
  • mucositis
  • onycholysis
  • regional hypothermia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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