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Can Breast Cancer Cause Hair Loss

Descriptive Summary Of Data

Chemotherapy Hair Loss During Breast Cancer Treatment

A total of 1511 patients from 47 hospitals and clinics returned the questionnaire to the data center, a response rate of 81.5% . Since 33 patients did not meet the inclusion criteria, the questionnaires returned by 1478 patients were analyzed. The mean age was 54.7 ± 10.4 years . lists the characteristics of these patients. In 63.5% of the patients, both anthracycline and taxanes were administered. In 20.2% patients, only a taxane was administered, and in 16.3% , only anthracycline was administered. Approximately 70% of the patients received endocrine therapy. Since the duration of endocrine therapy exceeds 5 years, most of these patients were considered to have been receiving endocrine therapy at the time of filling out the questionnaire survey. The distribution of the patients by years from the completion of chemotherapy until participating in this survey was: < 1 year: 411 , 12 years: 352 , 23 years: 287 , 34 years: 224 , and 45 years: 204 . Approximately 96% of the patients were treated and followed in cancer centers, university hospitals, or general hospitals.

When Will My Hair Grow Back

Once you finish your treatments, your hair should begin to grow back. Hair regrowth can take 3 to 5 months. When your hair grows back, it may have a different texture or color. In rare cases, your hair wont grow back as fully as it did before.

There is a very small risk that your hair wont grow back after radiation therapy to your head.

How You Might Feel About Losing Your Hair

For many of us, the way we feel about ourselves is closely linked to the way we look, and so losing your hair can be devastating. You may feel anxious at the thought of losing your hair, or angry and unhappy that this has happened in addition to your cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Some people feel guilty about being upset when they lose their hair as they feel there are other, more important things to worry about. However, theres no right or wrong way to feel and whether you lose some or all of your hair, the experience can be very distressing.

Hair loss is such a visible side effect of treatment, and can change how you look and view yourself. Men and women often express negative feelings about losing the hair from their head. Men with breast cancer may also find the experience of losing the hair from their chest difficult.

Hair loss may also make you feel vulnerable and exposed. You may see it as a constant reminder of your treatment, labelling you as a cancer patient or feel that hair loss has prevented you keeping your diagnosis private. Some people find that they adjust quickly to hair loss. Others find that it takes longer, or is more difficult to accept and adapt to than they imagined.

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Breast Cancer Hair Loss

Wish I knew I am at the start of all this, waiting to see what they are going to do and how bad it is. I am very upset at the prospect of my hair gone.


About to have chemo number 5 for breast cancer.

Yes you will loose your hair with this chemo lost mine from about day 13 of the 1st dose.

You can use the cold cap discuss this with your oncologist before treatment. I decided against it because it doesnt always work and prolongs the time treatment takes by a couple of hours of think.

Everyone is different though and it may work for you

Hi Suziesuze,

Sorry to hear about your diagnosis. What have they done so far?

Im concerned about losing my hair too but I am coming to terms with it, I will either get a wig or a few pretty head scarves if needed. However, until tomorrow it is only a possibility. I know its easier said than done but try to go one step at a time.

Keep in touch

Thanks for your reply.

Hows the chemo going? How many rounds of chemo are you having?

AT least this time tomorrow I should have my treatment plan and know what to expect. I keep telling myself that itll be easier when I know, I hope Im right.

I think with the cold cap it would possibly be worse using it and still losing hair rather than just accepting from the beginning that its happening, so Id probably do the same as you.

Best wishes

What You Can Do

Cancer Treatment and Hair Loss: The Connection

If your oncologist recommends a chemotherapy regimen containing Taxotere, ask about permanent hair loss risks and potentially switching to Taxol. And if you or a loved one suffered permanent hair loss after taking Taxotere, you may be entitled to compensation. Since Sanofi sold Taxotere for 10 years before disclosing permanent hair loss among possible chemo side effects, lawsuits are underway. To see if you may qualify for a cash settlement, fill out your free Taxotere claim evaluation form today. Afterwards, an experienced attorney who understands how to get the justice you deserve will call you to discuss your case.

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Hair Loss Seen In 1 Of 3 Women With Breast Cancer Receiving Endocrine Therapy

Washington, DCHair loss is a well-known side effect of chemotherapy, but alopecia can also occur with endocrine therapy. Endocrine therapyinduced alopecia has received much less attention than chemotherapy-induced alopecia, and many clinical trials of endocrine therapy do not report the incidence of alopecia. The good news is that ETAL is generally mild, and responds to topical and oral drugs.

In the adjuvant setting, about two-thirds of patients with breast cancer will receive endocrine therapy. There are no controlled studies of the incidence of ETAL, but recent surveys suggest that up to 30% will have some degree of hair loss with endocrine therapy, said Mario E. Lacouture, MD, Director, Oncodermatology Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, at the 2017 annual meeting of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer.

ETAL has a different clinical presentation than chemotherapy-induced alopecia. ETAL is usually milder in severity, and tends to be localized at the frontal hairline, Dr Lacouture said.

A survey of 868 patients receiving endocrine therapy with an aromatase inhibitor or tamoxifen found hair loss in 22.4% and hair thinning in 31.8%. A separate case history series of 15 patients receiving tamoxifen and an aromatase inhibitor found tapering of the hair shaft, he noted.

Patterns of Hair Loss

Quality of Life and Hair Loss

The hair care industry is a $37 billion industry in the United States, he explained.

We Protect The Rights Of Patients

Drug companies have a duty to ensure their products are safe and when they fail that duty, patients who suffered injuries have rights. Many patients are exercising their rights and seeking justice through the courts. These patients are filing lawsuits against the maker of Taxotere, alleging that if they had known of the risks of the drug, they would not have been treated with it. These patients say they were denied the opportunity to make informed decisions regarding their medical care.

If you are a patient who suffered baldness, permanent hair loss or alopecia after receiving Taxotere treatments, contact us today. Patients who are eligible to seek compensation may be able to receive significant damages for:

  • Their mental anguish and suffering
  • Permanent disfigurement

To many, hair loss is one of the more dreaded side effects of chemotherapy for cancer. An estimated 65% of patients undergoing classic chemotherapy experience what doctors call alopecia. But while some chemotherapy medications almost always result in such hair loss, others typically cause minimal hair loss.

Other factors related to chemo can affect hair loss as well, such as the dose of the drug given. Of course, effectively treating your cancer is the top priority. But knowing about this potential in advance can help you prepare for it. Fortunately, there are options available to help people cope with this symptom.

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Why Does Chemotherapy Cause Hair Loss

The reason chemotherapy can cause hair loss is that it targets all rapidly dividing cells healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Hair follicles, the structures in the skin from which hair grows, include some of the fastest-growing cells in the body. If you’re not in cancer treatment, cells in your hair follicles divide every 23 to 72 hours. But as chemotherapy does its work against cancer cells, it also damages hair follicle cells. Within a few weeks of starting certain chemotherapy medicines, you may lose some or all of your hair. The hair loss can happen gradually or fairly quickly.

Hair Loss And Your Job

New Treatment Helps With Hair Loss Associated With Breast Cancer Treatment

There tends to be a lot less stigma with being open about a cancer diagnosis in the workplace than there was even a generation ago. If youre planning to continue working or to job hunt during treatment, youre likely to find that many colleagues are understanding about what youre going through.

Still, its up to you to decide how comfortable you feel telling your colleagues or others you interact with in your job about your diagnosis and treatment. If youve lost your hair and you want to maintain your privacy at work, you might choose to wear a wig that looks as close as possible to your natural hair and to otherwise conceal your hair loss . If youre not as concerned about privacy, you might wear a scarf or choose not to hide your hair loss.

How you decide to handle hair loss at work might also depend on your job role and industry. For instance, if you work in a field in which your appearance is front and center more, you might decide that concealing your hair loss on the days you go into work helps you feel more confident.

For more info about navigating your work life during breast cancer treatment, including what to do if you think youve experienced discrimination, see Breast Cancer and Your Job.

Written by: Jen Uscher, contributing writer

This page was developed with contributions from the following experts:

Nik Georgopoulos, Ph.D., associate professor in cell biology, Paxman Scalp Cooling Research Centre, School of Applied Sciences, University of Huddersfield, UK

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Endocrine Therapy Induced Hair Loss

Ahead of her follow up appointment, I came across a 2016 article by Karatas, Sahin, Sever, and Altundag addressing the topic of hair loss in the face of hormone therapy in breast cancer patients, which I thought would be helpful information to share.

This article points out that those with breast cancer placed on endocrine therapy have a 25% chance of developing hair loss. These hormone treatments involve aromatase inhibitors and Tamoxifen treatment, which is also used in the adjuvant and/or metastatic setting of patients with Estrogen Receptor + and/or Progesterone Receptor+ invasive or noninvasive breast cancer.

When Does Hair Grow Back After Chemotherapy

How long it takes for the hair on your head to grow back after chemotherapy varies a lot from person to person. Here’s a typical timetable for hair regrowth on the head:

  • 34 weeks after chemotherapy ends: soft fuzz
  • 1 month to 6 weeks after: real hair starts to grow
  • 23 months after: about an inch of hair
  • 36 months: about 23 inches of hair
  • 12 months: 46 inches of hair

The hair on your head may be a different color, texture, or volume when it grows back. If you were dyeing or chemically treating your hair before you started chemotherapy, you might be surprised to see what your natural hair looks like when it grows back.

In many cases, hair eventually returns to the way it used to be after the effect of chemotherapy on the hair follicle wears off. But some people have incomplete hair regrowth. And sometimes permanent baldness and loss of eyebrows and eyelashes can occur, particularly in people who received Taxotere.

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Hormonal Therapy And Hair Loss

Some hormonal therapies used to treat breast cancer can cause mild to moderate hair loss, or hair thinning, often at the frontal hairline, the middle part, or the crown of the head. These medicines include:

  • tamoxifen, a selective estrogen receptor modulator
  • Faslodex , an estrogen receptor downregulator
  • Arimidex , Aromasin , and Femara , which are called aromatase inhibitors

Hormonal therapies work either by lowering estrogen levels or by blocking the effects of estrogen in breast tissue. Researchers dont know exactly why hormonal therapies cause hair loss, but by lowering estrogen levels they reduce the growth of hair follicles.

If you experience hair loss as a side effect of hormonal therapy, it may take between 6 months and 2 years before you notice it. Often the hair loss will level off after the first year or so. But the thinning will last as long as you keep taking the medicine, which is often from 5 to 10 years. Hair will usually start growing back a few months after you stop taking hormonal therapy.

How To Deal With Cancer

The Chemotherapy Drugs That Cause Hair Loss

When youâre struggling with cancer, treatments and the challenges that come with a diagnosis, it may be difficult to adjust to hair loss and other changes to your body and appearance. But there are ways to prepare for and deal with hair loss when it occurs. Here are 12 ways to help cope with cancer-related hair loss:

Give yourself time. Losing your hair may be difficult to accept. It may take time to adjust to how you look, then more time to feel good about yourself again. Its okay to feel upset. At the same time, understand that losing your hair is usually temporary and hair will re-grow after you complete treatment.

Remember youre still you. Losing your hair and experiencing other physical changes brought on by cancer and its treatment may come as a shock. It may be disorienting to look in the mirror and not recognize yourself. Remember that youre still the same person on the inside. Try to celebrate who you are and focus on those qualities.

Prepare ahead for hair changes. Before you begin cancer treatment, prepare in advance for changes to your hair. Talk to your doctor about what to expect. Meet with a stylist who is familiar with cancer-related hair loss. Some people choose to wear head coverings, and others dont. Choose whatever feels most comfortable for you. It also helps to think about how you will respond to reactions from others.

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Getting Through Hair Loss Following A Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Hair loss is something that some women who are diagnosed with breast cancer face. Hair can be a huge part of a persons identity, especially for a woman. The way your hair looks can communicate a lot to others about the type of person you are. Therefore, its understandable that losing your hair following a breast cancer diagnosis can add distress to an already devastating situation. In order to bring some relief and sense of control should you have to deal with hair loss, we outline why and when hair loss occurs as well as things that you can do to get through it.

Why it Happens

Chemotherapy is a type of breast cancer treatment that involves using chemicals to kill fast-growing cells such as tumors. Unfortunately, it may also target and kill non-tumorous cells such as hair follicles, leading to hair thinning or hair loss. Since hair follicles are found in different parts of the body, hair thinning or hair loss may occur not just on the scalp but for eyebrows, nose hair and body hair. Not all drugs lead to hair loss, which can also occur for a variety of reasons other than the drug being used. These factors include:1

  • Chemotherapy dosage

  • Other drugs you may be taking

  • And individual differences

  • The drugs or combination of drugs you receive

While hair loss is most often associated with chemotherapy, it can also occur if you are being treated with radiation or hormones.

When it Happens

What to Do About It

Cutting Your Hair

Scarves, Hats and Wigs


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