Answers From The Community
I had already lost most of my hair from Adriamycin/Cytoxan. Taxol finished the job, but my hair started growing back before I had finished all my Taxol infusions. Nine months after the end of chemo, my hair is longer than it had been before I started . I’m actually weirded out more by my chemo curls than I had been by my baldness.
I had the 12 weekly mini doses of Taxol after 4 AC doses. I lost much of my hair on AC , and Taaxol finished it off. Eyebrows, eyelashes, arm hair, nostril hair, total loss! Towards the last couple of treatments, it started growing back, and 2 months post chemo, I have enough head hair to go without a scarf.
I was on TCH. My hair came out on day 14, just as I had read about. It was coming out in bunches and when I took a shower, I was covered in hair. After a couple of days, I just grabbed a bowl and a razor and shaved the rest off. To me, being bald was the hardest part of the whole cancer treatment mess. I think when I was bald, then everyone knew I was sick. And I shed a lot of tears about being bald. I was lucky. My son and husband both shaved their heads in solidarity with me. That lifted my spirits.
/ Why Doesnt Every Chemo Patient Lose His Or Her Hair
Chemotherapy uses a specific mix of cancer drugs. The mix you will receive depends on the type of cancer you have. Some drugs cause hair loss, others cause little to no hair loss whatsoever. Some chemo treatments do not make peoples hair fall out but it does become thinner or duller. Your doctor is the best person to inform you about how much hair loss you can expect.
Coping With Other People’s Reactions To Hair Loss
You may feel that losing your hair means that you will need to tell people about your diagnosis when you would prefer not to, however, its up to you who you tell. Some people tell just their family and close friends, while others are happy to let everyone know.
People will respond to you losing your hair in different ways, and you may find some reactions difficult to understand.
A change in appearance may make you feel less confident about socialising with friends and family. However, withdrawing from your social life may make you feel more isolated or that your diagnosis is preventing you from doing the things you enjoy. Many people find continuing to meet up with others is a useful distraction and helps to keep some normality.
You may feel anxious about other peoples reactions at first, but these feelings should gradually improve over time. It might help to talk to others who have experienced hair loss.
If you have children, whatever their age, you may wonder what to tell them about your breast cancer. Your children may find it upsetting to see you without any hair and it might help if you prepare them for the fact that this may happen. Studies have shown that children are less anxious if they know whats happening, and that it can be less frightening for them to know what is going on even if they dont fully understand. Read our tips about talking to children about breast cancer.
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Some Health Insurance Plans Cover Wigs
If you have health insurance, it might partially or fully cover the cost of a wig. Consider calling your insurance provider to learn if the cost is covered. In order to receive reimbursement, you will probably need to ask your doctor for a prescription for a cranial prosthesis.
Some nonprofit organizations also help fund the cost of wigs for people in need. Ask your cancer care center or support group for more information about helpful resources.
About Hair Loss From Treatment
Some cancer treatments may make your hair fall out completely. This may be from your head and other parts of your body. This is usually temporary. Other treatments can cause permanent hair loss in specific areas of your body. Sometimes you may not lose all your hair, but your hair can become thinner or more likely to break .
There are practical steps you can take to reduce hair loss during treatment, including scalp cooling.
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Will Body Hair Fall Out
If chemotherapy causes your scalp hair to fall often other facial and body hair can also be affected. If chemotherapy cause hair to fall out on your scalp it is highly likely to also cause body hair to also fall out.Examples of body hair that may also fall out are:
Leg, arm and underarm hairChest hairOther areas of the body where hair grows
Help With The Cost Of Wigs
You can get free synthetic wigs on the NHS if:
- you’re under 16, or you are 19 or under and in full-time education
- you’re a hospital inpatient
- you or your partner are getting Universal Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance or the guarantee credit of Pension Credit
- you have an NHS tax credit exemption certificate
- you are named on a valid HC2 certificate
Cancer Research UK has more information on getting a wig on the NHS.
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Ways To Manage Hair Loss
Talk with your health care team about ways to manage before and after hair loss:
- Treat your hair gently. You may want to use a hairbrush with soft bristles or a wide-tooth comb. Do not use hair dryers, irons, or products such as gels or clips that may hurt your scalp. Wash your hair with a mild shampoo. Wash it less often and be very gentle. Pat it dry with a soft towel.
- You have choices. Some people choose to cut their hair short to make it easier to deal with when it starts to fall out. Others choose to shave their head. If you choose to shave your head, use an electric shaver so you wont cut yourself. If you plan to buy a wig, get one while you still have hair so you can match it to the color of your hair. If you find wigs to be itchy and hot, try wearing a comfortable scarf or turban.
- Protect and care for your scalp. Use sunscreen or wear a hat when you are outside. Choose a comfortable scarf or hat that you enjoy and that keeps your head warm. If your scalp itches or feels tender, using lotions and conditioners can help it feel better.
- Talk about your feelings. Many people feel angry, depressed, or embarrassed about hair loss. It can help to share these feelings with someone who understands. Some people find it helpful to talk with other people who have lost their hair during cancer treatment. Talking openly and honestly with your children and close family members can also help you all. Tell them that you expect to lose your hair during treatment.
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
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Why Do Not All Chemotherapy Patients Lose Their Hair Answering An Intriguing Question
Alopecia is one of the side effects of chemotherapy that patients fear most to the point that, just for that reason, up to 14% of women refuse chemotherapy. In fact, chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer rapidly growing cells, but do not spare other rapidly growing cells, including hair keratinocytes. In temporary alopecia, full regrowth is, however, possible. Within 96 h, DNA is repaired and hair bulb structures are restored , and within 36 months, new hairs are visible . In 65% of patients, they acquire temporary different features, including curliness in 35% of cases . Permanent or persistent alopecia is another possible outcome. High-dose busulfan and cyclophosphamide regimens, but breast cancer protocols as well, often including taxanes, are reported to cause it . Almost constantly, all hairy areas are involved. The severest forms occur in up to 10% of cases and seem to be associated with regulatory variants in the ABCB1 gene .
The current understanding of the problem takes into main consideration the high mitotic rate of hair keratinocytes, which, in fact, approach the maximum proliferative rate of keratinogenic epithelial cells . Hair keratinocytes are, just for that reason, particularly susceptible to any cytostatic insult. Stem cells are ordinarily spared, but in PA, they become the likely target of an undue antimitotic activity .
Dealing With Cancer Therapy Hair Loss
Hair loss can be one of the most difficult side effects of cancer treatments to deal with for both women and men. Talk with your doctor or nurse about your treatment plan and whether it may cause hair loss.
Hair loss occurs because many cancer treatments affect cancer cells and normal cells. This includes the cells that make hair grow.
Hair loss from cancer treatment is most often not permanent. Hair loss may affect all the hair on your body. Hair grows back once therapy has been completed. The amount of hair loss depends on the cancer treatment, the dose of treatment, and how it is given. If your treatment affects the hair, your hair may start falling out between seven to 21 days after you start your treatment.
In radiation, only hair that is in the area of radiation will be affected by hair loss. Only if radiation is given to the head will one lose hair on the head. Radiation given to other parts of the body will not cause hair on the head to fall out. Very rarely with radiation there might be an area where the hair is permanently thinner.
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Talking With Your Health Care Team About Hair Loss
Prepare for your visit by making a list of questions to ask. Consider adding these questions to your list:
- Is treatment likely to cause my hair to fall out?
- How should I protect and care for my head? Are there products that you recommend? Ones I should avoid?
- Where can I get a wig or hairpiece?
- What support groups could I meet with that might help?
- When will my hair grow back?
Are All Cancer Patients Able To Access Financial Help With The Costs Of A Wig
Depending on where you live and which health care provider is treating you will usually determine what type of financial support is available for a wig. For example if you are being treated in a NHS hospital you will be charged a prescription charge unless you qualify for help with charges.
If you are being treated privately you may find that your private health insurance company will contribute towards the cost of a wig. Additionally there are some charities and organisations such as Wig Bank who provide low cost wigs.
Remember that you will still need to buy wig care items and accessories such as a wig stand and shampoo and conditioner suitable for your wig.
Read our in-depth section about Visiting your local NHS wig supplier.
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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.
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Can Hair Loss Be Prevented
Scalp cooling or a cold cap is one of those things that, until you are faced with the possibility of losing your hair, you probably may not have heard much about. Its a method of cooling the scalp which can be used with some forms of chemotherapy to try and help reduce hair loss. Once you understand the basics you can explore if scalp cooling might be available and suitable for you. Read more about Scalp cooling.
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About Hair Loss Or Hair Thinning
Hair loss is one of the most well known side effects of cancer treatment. For many people losing their hair can be distressing and devastating.
It can be a constant reminder of your cancer and what youre going through. But for most people, their hair will grow back once treatment has finished.
Cancer drugs can cause:
- mild thinning of your hair
- partial hair loss, or loss of patches of hair
- complete hair loss
Chemotherapy is the type of cancer drug treatment most likely to cause hair loss.
Complete hair loss is very unlikely with any other type of treatment. But some other cancer drugs can cause hair thinning. It is not possible to tell beforehand who will be affected or how badly.
Hair loss also depends on factors such as:
- the type of drug or combination of drugs you are taking
- the dose
- the route
- how sensitive you are to the drug
- your drug treatment in the past