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Alopecia (hair loss) is often singled out as the most distressing side-effect of cancer chemotherapy treatment. This paper provides a comprehensive and critical review of the research literature on scalp cooling, a procedure introduced to prevent chemotherapy-induced alopecia. In spite of a considerable amount of research (both nursing and medical) over a 15-year period, the evidence on scalp cooling is inconclusive. Although concerned with a specialist issue, this paper may interest the general reader as it illustrates the value of a literature review in raising questions about current practice and in identifying issues for future research.