Is It Possible To Prevent Hair Loss
Scientists have tested different drugs to see if they could prevent hair loss in people who are treated for cancer. So far, there are no treatments approved for use in the UK to prevent hair loss.
You might have heard of something called cold capping or scalp cooling, where you wear a hat filled with a cold gel or liquid while you have your chemotherapy. Cold capping reduces the flow of blood carrying chemotherapy to your hair. Although it can reduce hair loss, it is not recommended for people with lymphoma or other cancers affecting blood cells. This is because you could have lymphoma cells in the blood vessels of your scalp. If you wear a cold cap, the cells are more likely to survive chemotherapy, making the treatment less effective.
/ 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.
Can Cold Caps And Scalp Cooling Prevent Hair Loss During Treatment
Cooling the scalp can sometimes prevent or reduce hair loss from the head for both men and women having chemotherapy. This technique works by reducing the blood flow to the hair follicles, which means that the amount of drugs reaching the hair follicles is also reduced.
The effectiveness of scalp cooling varies depending on the drug and dose used, and from person to person. If you do keep your hair, you may find that its patchy or thinner. Scalp cooling is often less effective on African and Caribbean hair, so increased cooling times may be recommended.
There are two widely available ways of cooling the scalp. One method uses a cold cap, which is a hat filled with a gel that can be chilled. The other system uses a small, refrigerated cooling machine to pump a liquid coolant through the cap. In both cases the cap is worn before, during and after chemotherapy, so scalp cooling can mean youre at the hospital for longer.
You can ask your specialist or chemotherapy nurse if scalp cooling is available and whether it would be suitable for you. The condition of your hair and any previous use of chemicals on it may affect how well scalp cooling works. Your chemotherapy nurse will discuss this with you.
Some doctors have been concerned that scalp cooling may increase the risk of developing secondary cancers in the brain or scalp due to the possibility of constricted blood vessels limiting the amount of chemotherapy reaching the area.
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Will I Lose My Hair During Breast Cancer Treatment
Many people will lose either some or all of their hair as a result of treatment for breast cancer. People who have chemotherapy will often experience hair loss. Some other treatments may cause hair loss or thinning.
If theres a chance that you will lose your hair, your specialist, chemotherapy nurse or breast care nurse will talk to you before treatment starts about what might happen. This should also include information about any risk of permanent hair thinning or loss that could happen as a result of the treatment. As well as talking about practical issues such as caring for your scalp or wearing a wig, you can also discuss your feelings about losing your hair and what support might be available to help you adjust to it.
For some, losing their hair is the most distressing side effect of treatment. Find out more about coping with hair loss.
Which Chemotherapy Drugs Cause Hair Loss
Your medical team will speak to you about your risk of hair loss before you begin treatment.
Lymphoma chemotherapy drugs that usually cause hair loss include:
- conditioning chemotherapy .
Hair loss is more common with intravenous chemotherapy. Whether or not you lose your hair also depends on the dose of your chemotherapy and how often you have it.
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What Else Do I Need To Know About Oral Chemo
Chemo may damage your kidneys, liver, heart, or other organs. You may have an allergic reaction to chemo. This may become life-threatening. Your risk for infection and bleeding are increased during chemo treatment. You may have problems getting pregnant or getting your partner pregnant after you have chemo. You may need to receive chemo a different way, such as through a blood vessel instead of by mouth. You may need more than 1 cycle of chemo to treat your cancer.
What Else Should I Know
Cancer treatment has come a long way. But it can be hard for kids and teens to cope with the sometimes painful or uncomfortable side effects of treatment. Fortunately, doctors have many ways to make treatments easier to manage.
Your child also might feel the emotional effects of having a serious illness. Answer questions and help explain what’s going on in an age-appropriate way. You also can talk with the care team. A hospital support group, life specialist, social worker, or psychologist from the care team can help your child and your whole family before, during, and after cancer treatment.
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How Much Dht Causes Hair Loss
As stated previously, testosterone converts to DHT. So you may be thinking, if I increase my testosterone, wont my DHT levels increase? The answer is yes. The next question is: If DHT is related to hair loss, then wont increased DHT cause increased hair loss? Luckily some researchers answered this exact question. In this study, researchers compared levels of DHT in individuals with hair loss and compared them with people without hair loss. They found that DHT levels were similar in both groups. The researchers concluded that, increased serum concentrations of DHT were not correlated with the advance of alopecia. They went on to say, Based on the results of our study and others, the most important factors would appear to be the genetically-determined sensitivity of the follicles to DHT and their different reactions to androgen concentration.
Effect Of Other Cancer Therapies
The newer targeted therapies for cancer don’t usually cause total hair loss like chemotherapy drugs but can result in changes such as thinning of the hair and dryness, as well as changes in texture similar to chemo curls. Some targeted therapies may also affect the pigmentation of hair, often causing the hair to become darker.
Some of the targeted therapies that have been linked with hair changes or hair loss include:
- Cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 inhibitors such as Ibrance , Kisqali , and Verzenio
- VEGF inhibitors such as Nexavar
- BRAF inhibitors such as Zelboraf and Tafinlar
- Bcr/Abl inhibitors such as Tasigna and Gleevec
Some of the hormonal therapies commonly used for breast cancer have been associated with thinning of the hair for some people. Unlike chemotherapy, people may be using the drug for many months or even years before they notice the changes in their hair. Hormonal therapies more often linked to hair loss include:
- Aromatase inhibitors: Hair loss appears to be more common with Arimidex and Femara than with Aromasin .
Immunotherapy drugs for cancer, at least checkpoint inhibitors, do not usually cause hair loss, though oftentimes these drugs are used along with chemotherapy. Researchers are looking at ways of harnessing the gene involved in autoimmune alopecia to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
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Managing Hair Loss From Chemotherapy
If chemotherapy medicines that will cause hair loss are part of your breast cancer treatment plan, there are steps you can take to prepare, possibly lessen hair loss, and protect your hair as it grows back. Learn more about Managing Hair Loss From Chemotherapy, including tips for hair loss on your head, eyebrows, and eyelashes.
What Are The Side Effects Of Oral Chemotherapy
The possible side effects of oral chemotherapy are the same as those of traditional chemotherapy, and may include fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, constipation or hair loss.
The potential side effects you may experience depend on the type of chemotherapy drug youre taking and how often youre taking it. Not everyone experiences the same ones or in the same way. Patients are sometimes surprised to find out that not all chemotherapies cause hair loss, for example, or that men and women may experience different side effects of chemotherapy.
We also have more ways to help patients tolerate treatment these days. Anti-nausea medications have improved significantly over the years and are frequently given along with chemotherapy drugs. Supportive care therapies are designed to help prevent and manage side effects of cancer and its treatment. At CTCA®, for example, our patients have access to our integrative care services, including:
Your oncologist may be able to change the dosage of your medication or even prescribe a different chemotherapy if necessary. Talk to your care team about your options if you experience side effects.
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What Are Common Side Effects Of Chemo And Radiation
Chemo and radiation cause similar side effects. Chemo’s side effects depend on the type of drug used, the dosage, and a child’s overall health. These effects are more likely to affect the whole body.
Radiation’s side effects, on the other hand, tend to affect the area being treated. But they do still depend on the dose of radiation given, the location on the body, and whether the radiation was internal or external.
Here are some of the side effects associated with these cancer treatments, and how to manage them:
Tiredness is the most common side effect of both chemotherapy and radiation. Even the most active kids are likely to find themselves exhausted and perhaps even a little “foggy-headed” during treatment and possibly for a while afterward. This is normal. Encourage your child to scale back on activities and to rest as much as possible. When treatment is over, your child’s energy should return.
Some cancer medicines appear to trigger the body’s normal inflammatory response, producing flu- or cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, chills, and cough. Drinking plenty of fluids can help clear excess mucus. Also ask your doctor which, if any, over-the-counter medicines might help.
Mouth, Gum, and Throat Sores
If your child’s appetite wanes, try offering several small servings of something rather than three large meals. Also concentrate on keeping your child hydrated with water, juices, and broths.
What Will My Chemo Schedule Be
How often and how long you get chemo will depend on the type of cancer you have. It will also depend on the type of chemo you need, side effects, and how well the chemo works. You may be given more than one medicine at a time. You may take oral chemo daily, weekly, or once or twice a month. Chemo is often given in cycles over a period of several months or more. This means that you will get the medicine for a period of time, and then you will have a break from it. This allows your body to grow new, healthy cells.
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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.
Hormone Replacement Therapy For Menopausal Hair Loss
Hormone replacement therapy, sometimes called menopausal hormone therapy, is a popular treatment among menopausal and postmenopausal women who wants to supplement the estrogen that the body loses upon reaching menopause age.
HRT can improve the effects of menopause and provide relief from its discomforting symptoms. Likewise, it can offer benefits for serious health complications that older and postmenopausal women may be at risk for such as osteoporosis and colon cancer. There are two main types of hormone therapy:
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Hair Loss And Your Job
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
Why Will I Lose My Hair During Cancer Treatment
Cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, attack fast-growing cancer cells. These treatments can also affect normal cells that grow fast, such as hair cells.
Chemotherapy can cause hair loss on your scalp, pubic area, arms, legs, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Radiation therapy to your head often causes hair loss on your scalp. Sometimes, depending on the dose of radiation to your head, your hair may grow back differently from how it looked before, or it may not grow back at all.
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