Will It Happen To Me
Not all types of chemotherapy given for breast cancer causes hair loss or the same degree of hair loss so before you even start to worry, ask your doctor about the side effects associated with your specific treatment. Some women have only thinning, or spotty hair loss, while others may have complete hair loss. Whether or not you have hair loss will depend on the type of chemo treatment youre receiving, how long youre being treated, the dose, and the way your body responds to it.
If your hair is affected by your treatment, it will likely begin within a few weeks after starting chemotherapy. Its hard to view hair loss in a positive light, but it does mean your chemo is working, because those fast-dividing cells are being killed. Before you begin to lose your hair, your head may feel more sensitive or tender as the chemo weakens the hair follicles. Hair loss may be gradual, or you may lose larger clumps of hair at a time.
Although its not a guarantee, wearing a cooling cap shortly before, during and after each chemotherapy treatment may reduce the risk of hair loss. The cap contains a super-cold gel pack, and when its placed on your head, it causes the blood vessels near the surface of your scalp to constrict. Because the chemo medication cant easily enter those blood vessels, your hair follicles may be protected from the negative effects of the medication.
Weve been working hard on this. Add your e-mail address and we will tell you as soon as it launches.
Permanent And Irreversible Hair Loss
Anyone who has been through chemotherapy knows that there is a risk of hair loss while undergoing treatment, but typically the hair starts to regrow not long after treatment is completed. Unfortunately, many women treated with Taxotere were left with a condition called alopecia.
Alopecia is the complete, irreversible and permanent loss of hair from anywhere on the body where hair normally grows. Many women who experienced this adverse event with Taxotere did not regrow any of their hair, while other women grew thin strands that fell out again for seemingly no reason. For most, being left with permanent hair loss makes them continue to feel and look like a victim of cancer, not someone who has battled cancer and won.
Not all patients who are treated with Taxotere develop alopecia, but if you did, you might notice hair regrowth on some areas of the head, while other areas remain bald. In fact, researchers found that of the 189 patients studied with early breast cancer, over 15 percent developed permanent baldness and hair loss.
Hormonal And Targeted Therapies
Some people notice that their hair becomes thinner while taking a hormonal therapy or targeted therapy. This is usually mild and the hair grows back at the end of treatment. If you have a beard, you may notice that you have less beard growth.
You may notice that the hair on your head and body is finer, curlier or more brittle. Each therapy has different possible side effects.
Any hair loss from hormonal or targeted therapies nearly always grows back once you have finished treatment. Your doctor can advise you about the type of drug you are taking.
Also Check: How To Stop Hair Loss In Front Of Head
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 Prepare For Hair Loss
- Each person is different. Ask your health care team if hair loss is likely to happen. If it is, ask if it will happen quickly or gradually.
- If you are going to get chemotherapy that might cause hair loss, talk to your health care team about whether a cooling cap might help reduce your risk. More research is being done to understand how effective and safe cooling caps may be. There are some side effects of cooling caps to consider, such as headaches, scalp pain, and neck and shoulder discomfort. Talk to your health care team about the benefits, limitations, and side effects of cooling caps.
- If the thought of losing your hair bothers you, you might choose to cut your hair very short or even shave your head before it starts falling out.
- If you think you might want a wig, buy it before treatment begins or at the very start of treatment. Ask if the wig can be adjusted you might need a smaller wig as you lose hair. To match hair color, you can cut a swatch of hair from the top front of your head, where hair is lightest..
- Wigs and other scalp coverings may be partially or fully covered by your health insurance. If so, ask for a prescription for a cranial prosthesis. Do not use the word wig on the prescription.
- Get a list of wig shops in your area from your cancer team, other patients, or from the phone book. You can also order the American Cancer Societys tlc Tender Loving Care® catalog by visiting tlc or by calling 1-800-850-9445.
You May Like: How To Thicken Up Thin Hair
Hair Loss And Your Children
If you have young children, you may be concerned about how theyll react to seeing you lose your hair as a side effect of chemotherapy.
Experts say that no matter the age of your kids, its best to prepare them before your hair falls out with honest, age-appropriate information about what to expect.
Since kids often follow your lead, try not to get too upset yourself during the conversation. Reassure them that your hair will grow back. It might also make them feel better to participate in some of the things youre doing to prepare, such as picking out hats, scarves, or other head coverings, or shaving off your hair.
Preparing For Scalp Cooling
Whether you use cold caps or a scalp cooling system, its important to make sure the cap fits correctly to increase the chance it will be effective. Carefully follow the manufacturers instructions on how to fit the cap on your head, and practice before your first treatment.
Both scalp cooling methods get very cold, so some people get headaches while wearing the caps. Other possible side effects include:
- neck and shoulder discomfort
Most people get very cold during scalp cooling, so you should dress warmly and bring warm blankets with you, or ask the cancer treatment center if they have blankets you can use. People tend to feel colder wearing cold caps than they do using scalp cooling systems. Its common for people to feel the most discomfort during the first 10 minutes of treatment and then feel less discomfort as they adjust to the cold.
When using cold caps or a scalp cooling system throughout chemotherapy treatment, its smart to be extra gentle with your hair to prevent damage and help maintain hair quality. Its recommended that you:
- use a gentle shampoo
Recommended Reading: Does Parkinson’s Cause Hair Loss
What Else Contributes To Hair Loss
There are a number of non-cancer related medications that are associated with hair loss that might accentuate the effects of chemotherapy drugs if used in combination.
Some of these include retinoids , anti-thyroid medications, L-Dopa , amphetamines, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and several antidepressants such as tricyclic antidepressants and Wellbutrin .
In addition to medications, illness, surgery, or dietary changes may lead to hair loss.
Thyroid disease may cause hair loss and may occur with cancer treatment .
Can Breast Cancer Treatment Cause Permanent Hair Loss
Hair loss caused by chemotherapy is almost always temporary so hair will usually start to grow back once your treatment is over. Some people find that it starts to grow back before they have completed all their chemotherapy.
There is some evidence that chemotherapy may result in prolonged or permanent hair loss, particularly with taxane drugs . Permanent hair loss is described as incomplete regrowth of hair six months or more after completing treatment.
At the moment there is no definite evidence to say how often this happens, which may mean that this possible side effect is not included in written information given to patients undergoing chemotherapy.
As hair loss is common in both people with cancer and in the general population, its often difficult to be sure whether problems with hair regrowth are due to treatment, genetics or other factors such as extreme stress or medical conditions, or a combination of these things.
After radiotherapy, any hair that you lost from the treated area will usually grow back. You may find that the regrowth is patchy and it can take several months to grow back completely. Its also possible that the hair may not grow back at all. This will depend on the dose of radiotherapy and the number of treatments youve had.
Once you have finished taking hormone therapy, your hair should return to how it was before treatment. However, this may take some time and for some may not fully return to the same thickness.
Don’t Miss: What Do Celebrities Use For Hair Loss
Caring For Your Hair And Head
Here are some ways you can care for your hair and head while youre experiencing hair loss:
- Wash and condition your hair every 2 to 4 days. Use baby shampoo or other mild shampoo . You should also use a cream rinse or hair conditioner.
- Use shampoos and conditioners that have sunscreen to prevent sun damage to your scalp.
- Always rinse your hair well and pat it dry with a soft towel.
- Wash your hair after swimming in a pool.
- Dont expose your scalp to the sun.
- Keep your head covered in the summer.
- In the winter, cover your head with a hat, scarf, turban, or wig to keep it warm. This can also help to catch falling hair.
- Sleep on a satin or silk pillowcase. These are smoother than other fabrics and can decrease hair tangles.
- Brush or comb your hair gently with a soft-bristle brush or comb. Start brushing or combing your hair at the ends and gently work your way up to your scalp. You can also comb through your hair with your fingers. Wet your fingers with water first.
- If your hair is long, you may want to have it cut short before you begin treatment.
- Tell your hairdresser that youre receiving chemotherapy. They may be able to recommend gentle hair products.
- Try using Bumble and bumble Hair Powder to cover bald spots and thinning areas of your hair. You can buy it at Sephora® or online from various beauty supply websites.
Dont use the following on your hair during treatment because they can be too harsh or pull on your hair:
Two Bouts With Cancer By Age 35
Breast cancer was actually Dodsons second major cancer. When she was 20 years old, she had Hodgkin lymphoma, which doctors treated primarily with radiation.
From the time she was 20, she was advised that there was a strong correlation between Hodgkin lymphoma and breast cancer, and that coupled with the radiation to her chest put her in a high-risk category for breast cancer.
Doctors told Dodson she should start getting mammogram screenings at age 35 as opposed to age 40.
In 2010, Dodson turned 35 and decided that 36 would be as good as 35, and that there was no harm in waiting a year. She told herself she wasnt going to get a mammogram.
I just didnt want to, Dodson said. It was my husband who brought me kicking and screaming to the mammogram. He told me later that he had actually felt a lump but didnt want to frighten me.
Dodson had one mammogram, followed by an ultrasound and a biopsy.
Sure enough that was it I had breast cancer, Dodson said. If not for my husband, I would not have survived. By 36, I would have been dead.
Dodson quickly learned that she tested positive for the BRCA 2 genetic mutation, which meant an additional increased risk for ovarian cancer.
At the time of her breast cancer diagnosis, Dodsons son was 5 and her daughter was 2. Dodson was hoping to have a third pregnancy that year. Her oncologist strongly advised against it.
Read Also: Can You Go Bald From Postpartum Hair Loss
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
Those Most And Least Likely Drugs To Have This Side Effect Of Cancer Treatment
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.
Also Check: Can Doctors Prescribe Medication For Hair Loss