Hair loss is one of the more dreaded side effect of chemotherapy for cancer, but not all chemotherapy drugs have the same effect. Some medications almost always result in hair loss, whereas others cause minimal hair loss. We will look at the particular drugs most likely to cause hair loss (alopecia), but there are other factors that can affect hair loss as well, such as the dose of the drug, the timing of administration, and the combination of drugs you receive. Fortunately, there are options available to help people cope with this symptom, ranging from a wide array of hats, wigs, and scarves, to the relatively recent approach of using cooling to attempt to prevent hair loss partially or completely.
Chemotherapy may cause hair loss all over your body not just on your scalp. Sometimes your eyelash, eyebrow, armpit, pubic and other body hair also falls out. Some chemotherapy drugs are more likely than others to cause hair loss, and different doses can cause anything from a mere thinning to complete baldness.
In addition to chemotherapy, some targeted therapies and hormonal therapies for cancer can cause hair changes as well, such as thinning, curling, and dryness.
Read more about: Hair transplant growth stages
Read more about: Chemotherapy types
Read more about: cervical cancer risk factors
No treatment exists that can guarantee your hair won't fall out during or after chemotherapy. Several treatments have been investigated as possible ways to prevent hair loss, but none has been absolutely effective, include:
Read more about: Types of chemotherapy
Read more about: Chemo side effects
Read more about: Chemotherapy side effects
Read more about: Best hair transplant method
Hair loss often begins around the time of your second chemotherapy infusion, though this varies widely. It may start slowly, but increases rapidly around 1 month to 2 months after starting treatment. Some people do not lose all of their hair until they have nearly completed chemotherapy. Hair re-growth typically begins within 3 months of concluding chemotherapy. When your hair does grow back, many people find they have what's been coined chemo curls. If your hair was straight prior to chemotherapy it will likely become straight again, but this process can take up to several years.
Read more about: Anal Cancer Treatment
Read more about: Kidney Cancer Treatment
Chemotherapy medications which cause hair loss, or at least significant hair thinning in the majority of people include:
Read more about: Chemotherapy drugs
Read more about: Hair transplant surgery time
Several treatments have been investigated as possible ways to prevent hair loss, but none has been absolutely effective, including:
Studies of scalp cooling caps and other forms of scalp hypothermia have found they work somewhat in the majority of people who have tried them. However, the procedure also results in a very small risk of cancer recurring in your scalp, as this area doesn't receive the same dose of chemotherapy as the rest of your body. People undergoing scalp hypothermia report feeling uncomfortably cold and having headaches.
Read more about: Chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting
Read more about: Hair transplant cost in Iran
Approximately 65% of individuals undergoing chemotherapy will experience chemotherapy-induced hair loss, which is usually temporary and completely reversible when therapy ends.3 The use of molecularly targeted agents in cancer treatment has also been associated with hair loss rates as high as 60%. Chemotherapy-induced hair loss has been shown to lower patient self-esteem and deprive patients of their privacy because the public commonly associates hair loss with cancer. Forty-seven percent of female cancer patients consider hair loss to be the most traumatic aspect of chemotherapy, with 8% of them stating they would decline treatment for fear of hair loss.
Many people lose some of their hair if they undergo chemotherapy. However, this hair loss is rarely permanent, and it should grow back once treatment is over. When hair loss occurs, it usually starts within 2 weeks of treatment and becomes more severe for 1–2 months. Hair does not start to grow back immediately after the last chemotherapy treatment. This is because it takes time for chemotherapy drugs to completely leave the body and stop attacking healthy dividing cells.
Read more about: Chemotherapy