Coping With Ovarian Cancer And Hair Loss
You grow it out, cut it short, dye it, and style it. You wash it and dry it. Love it or hate it, you could always count on your hair being there. But when the doctor informed you of your ovarian cancer diagnosis, thoughts of your hair quickly flooded your mind.
Will it fall out? Will it ever grow back? What will people say? What will I do?
These questions are expected for someone with a fresh cancer diagnosis. Even though the types of cancer are as different as the people they impact, hair loss is a common aspect of the experience.
Chemotherapy, the treatment that attacks cancer cells in your body, works by targeting all cells that grow rapidly, including the cells around your hair follicles. As the cells die or are damaged, your hair will fall out.
Hair loss will not just be restricted to your scalp it will occur all over your body.
Changes in your appearance are associated with fluctuating self-perceptions and self-esteem. As if the physical hardships linked to ovarian cancer were not enough, you also have to manage the psychological aspects of the disease.
You may not be able to prescribe your cancer treatments, but luckily, coping with the mental impact of hair loss is something you are qualified to address.
Tips For Possible Complete Hair Loss
- Ask about a wig before you start treatment, so you can match the colour and texture of your real hair.
- If you are feeling adventurous, choose a wig for a whole new look why not try the colour and style youve always wanted!
- Think about having your hair gradually cut short before your treatment starts this might help you get used to seeing yourself with less hair.
- Some people shave their hair off completely to avoid the distress of seeing their hair fall out.
- Wear a hair net at night so you wont wake up with hair all over your pillow, which can be upsetting.
- Keep your head warm in cooler weather some people wear a soft hat in bed.
- Rub in oil or moisturiser if your scalp feels dry and itchy, try unperfumed products such as Epaderm, Hydromol or Doublebase.
- Try a moisturising liquid instead of soap if your scalp is dry, for example aqueous cream, Oilatum or Diprobase.
- Protect your scalp by covering your head in the sun your scalp is particularly sensitive to the sun.
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Hair Loss During Cancer Treatment
Most of the time, as you might already be aware, the cause of hair loss for cancer patients isnt the cancer itself, but the treatment.
According to a 2015 review, approximately 65 percent of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy experience hair loss during treatment.
Thats a huge percentage of the population who experience the same, severe side effect.
The specific mechanism of hair loss from chemotherapy is actually a type of hair loss telogen effluvium.
Telogen effluvium is a hair loss disorder in which one of the three phases of your hairs growth cycle is interrupted.
The primary phase of the hair growth cycle is called the anagen phase. This is where the hair grows, and 90 percent of your hair should be in this phase at any time.
After that it enters a rest phase, called the catagen phase, before then entering hibernation in the telogen phase.
As many as nine percent of your hair follicles could be in this phase normally more is a cause for concern.
More, as you may have guessed, is the definition of telogen effluvium a sudden shift in the number of follicles actively hibernating on your head.
Visually, it looks like even thinning across your entire scalp, making your hair look sparse.
Telogen effluvium is typically caused by a stressor, which could be surgery, major trauma, extreme stress or chemotherapy.
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Stages Of Ovarian Cancer
As with many forms of cancer, ovarian cancer is classified upon diagnosis as being in different stages of development.
Stage I growth is limited to just the ovaries.
Stage II growth has spread outside the ovaries but not outside the pelvis.
Stage III growth has spread outside the ovaries and either beyond the pelvis or to the lymph nodes.
Stage IV growth has spread to outside organs such as the lungs or liver. This is the most advanced stage of cancer.
Epithelial Carcinoma Of The Ovary
Epithelial cell carcinoma is the most common type of ovarian cancer. It makes up fourth most common cause of cancer death in women.
This type often doesnt have symptoms in the early stages. Most people arent diagnosed until theyre in the advanced stages of the disease.
This type of ovarian cancer can run in families and is more common in women who have a family history of:
- ovarian cancer and breast cancer
- ovarian cancer without breast cancer
- ovarian cancer and colon cancer
Women who have two or more first-degree relatives, such as a parent, sibling, or child, with ovarian cancer are at the highest risk. However, having even one first-degree relative with ovarian cancer increases the risk. The breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 are also associated with ovarian cancer risk.
Factors that are linked to increased survival
Several factors are linked to increased survival in women who have epithelial carcinoma of the ovary:
- receiving a diagnosis at an earlier stage
- being a younger age
- having a well-differentiated tumor, or cancer cells that still closely resemble healthy cells
- having a smaller tumor at the time of removal
- having a cancer caused by BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes
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What Is Brca1 Or Brca2
Normally, BRCA1 and BRCA2 are tumor suppressor genes that halt abnormal cell growth in the ovaries. If 1 of these genes mutates, it can increase your risk of developing cancer. You have a 50% chance of inheriting the BRCA gene mutation if 1 of your parents has it.
Women with a mutation in either their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have 10-to-30 times increased risk of ovarian cancer. BRCA1 increases the chance of ovarian cancer even more than BRCA2.
Genetic testing for BRCA1 or BRCA2 gives you information about your predisposition of developing ovarian cancer. While it sounds rare, 1 in every 500 women in the United States has a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
Common Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
Some ovarian cancer symptoms, like abdominal bloating, pelvic pain, indigestion, and fatigue, may overlap with symptoms of other, noncancerous diseases. However, in cases of ovarian cancer, these symptoms will be more persistent and change over time. For example, they may become more severe or occur more often. Trying unsuccessfully to treat these symptoms with changes in diet, exercise, or medication may also point to a more serious problem. If you have symptoms more than 12 times a month, it is a good idea to see your doctor.
Keep in mind that each person will experience symptoms differently. Listen to your body, and when you feel that something is wrong, speak with your doctor about your concerns. They will likely conduct a pelvic exam and may send you for further testing.
Read more about diagnosing ovarian cancer.
Epithelial and germ cell ovarian cancer do not show the same symptoms as stromal cell ovarian cancer. Epithelial ovarian cancer involves the cells covering the outside of the ovaries while ovarian germ cell cancer arises from egg cells in the ovaries. Surface epithelial tumors are the most common and dangerous, because 70 percent of women are not diagnosed until the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage. Symptoms often go unrecognized until the cancer has spread to other organs surrounding the ovaries.
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Early Signs Of Ovarian Cancer
Don’t ignore these potential early symptoms
Weve long considered ovarian cancer a silent killer with few, if any, early symptoms. However, it turns out ovarian cancer may not be as stealthy as we once thought. There are, in fact, some early signs of the disease that are important to recognize.
Why is it so crucial? The unfortunate reality is that more than 70% of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed when the cancer is more advanced and has a poorer prognosis.
- The five-year survival rate for early-stage ovarian cancer is about 80% to 90%.
- The five-year survival rate for advanced-stage ovarian cancer varies from about 28% to 40%.
Women tend to ignore early signs of ovarian cancer or think their symptoms are simply related to aging, weight gain or other less serious problems, says Amina Ahmed, MD, director of Rush University Cancer Center. Thats what makes ovarian cancer so difficult to detect early, when it is most curable.
Taking symptoms of ovarian cancer seriously is also important because there is currently no screening method for ovarian cancer for women who do not have symptoms and do not have a family history or BRCA genetic mutations .
The Initial Causes Is Body Hair Loss Symptom Of Ovarian Cancer
The main cause of hair loss is stress. While most of us shed about 50 to 100 strands of hair daily, we also continue to grow new ones at the same rate. This shedding is normal, and its perfectly natural to replace lost hair with new ones. However, if youre losing hair that is excessively slow or isnt growing back, youre experiencing hair fall. There are many possible causes for this condition, but theres no one single solution.
Tinea capitis, also known as scalp ringworm, is a fungal infection that affects the scalp. Symptoms include bald spots and patches of hair loss. Infection may be caused by fungus, and scaly, red patches may develop. In severe cases, sores may develop on the scalp and oozing pus may be present. Treatment with a prescription may be necessary, but the long-term results of taking these medications are not always permanent.
In some cases, temporary hair loss may be the result of a hormonal imbalance. While some women experience hair loss due to hormonal fluctuations, others may experience permanent loss of hair. These changes can be caused by hormones in the body, such as those produced by the thyroid or by the adrenal glands. In severe cases, the loss of hair is caused by medical conditions. Inflammatory diseases can cause an excess of androgen, a male hormone. High levels of vitamin A in the blood and in the body can also result in hair thinning.
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Why Does Chemotherapy Cause Hair Loss
Hair loss occurs because chemotherapy targets all rapidly dividing cellshealthy cells as well as cancer cells. Hair follicles, the structures in the skin filled with tiny blood vessels that make hair, are some of the fastest-growing cells in the body. If youre not in cancer treatment, your hair follicles divide every 23 to 72 hours. Because many chemotherapy drugs are designed to effectively kill all rapidly dividing cells, hair is the unfortunate bystander that takes the fall along with the cancer cells.
How To Slow Hair Loss During Chemotherapy For Ovarian Cancershare
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How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed
For many types of cancer, there are screening tests that detect pre-cancers or cancer at an early stage when it is curable before symptoms may develop. Pap smears, mammograms and colonoscopy are examples of screening tests that many people are familiar with. Unfortunately, there are no screening tests for ovarian cancer. Testing typically happens after you have symptoms. Its important to know your body and reach out to your healthcare provider when you notice something unusual. Because the symptoms of ovarian cancer are varied, persistent symptoms lasting more than two to three weeks are important to discuss with your healthcare provider.
Your provider may start with a history and a physical exam, including a pelvic exam. This exam is used to check for any abnormal growths or enlarged organs in the pelvis. This first test may give your provider more information and help to decide what additional tests you may need.
Additional tests could include:
Other imaging tests that can help diagnose ovarian cancer can include:
Blood tests: Blood tests look for a substance called CA-125. High levels of CA-125 in the blood can be a sign of cancer. However, CA-125 levels can be normal, even when cancer is present, and higher in many conditions that are not cancer. Because of this, blood tests are used with other tests to diagnose ovarian cancer.
What Should We Eat To Reduce Hair Fall Immediately
Diet For Healthy Hair Spinach. Iron deficiency is the main cause of hair fall . Carrots. Known to be good for the eyes, carrots contain Vitamin A that also improves hair growth . Eggs. Since hair is composed of 68 percent keratin protein, eggs help in rebuild damaged hair . Oats. Walnuts. Lentils. Chicken. Strawberries and guavas.
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What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are typically vague and early-stage ovarian cancer has no symptoms. This means that ovarian cancer often goes undiagnosed until its later stages, when the cancer is more likely to have spread.
Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
- Unexplained and frequent bloating
- Menstrual changes
- Weight loss
When ovarian cancer recurs, symptoms are the same as those above. If you have a history of ovarian cancer and are experiencing any of the symptoms noted, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Hair Loss During Chemotherapy
- Unfortunately, one of the most effective chemo drugs for ovarian cancer does typically cause women to lose their hair
- Hair loss during treatment can be distressing for many women, but its important to remember its only temporary
- Theres a wealth of resources available to help women manage hair loss
For so many of us, one of the first questions after the cancer diagnosis is, when does the hair go? Hair loss is one of the more distressing side effects of chemotherapy, but its important to remember that its only temporary. One of the most common chemotherapy drugs used to treat ovarian cancer, called Taxol, usually does cause women to lose their hair, including their eyebrows and eyelashes.
Despite many claims that there are ways to prevent that from happening, it is a side effect unfortunately that cannot be stopped, says Dr. Yvette Williams-Brown, a gynecologic oncologist at the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes at UTHealth Austin.
But Dr. Williams-Brown emphasizes that once treatment is over, hair typically does grow back. Although some women, she notes, may experience some changes to hair color and texture when it begins growing back.
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