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Does Radiation Therapy Cause Hair Loss

Tips To Help Prepare For Hair Loss

Hair Loss In Radiation Therapy – Dr. Afshin Forouzannia

We give some tips below. However, the approach you decide to take is a very personal decision.

Consider your options

Take some time to think about your approach in advance of changes happening this could include what you might say to people, as well as if and how you choose to cover changes to your appearance.

Some people find it helpful to use an app that shows how you would look without hair. Search online for one thats suitable for your device.

Tell friends, family and colleagues that you expect to lose your hair

Letting people know that you might lose your hair can prepare you and them for this possibility. Having this conversation in advance might help to lessen your anxiety about others reactions to any changes in your appearance. You could also signpost them to our information, to help explain hair loss as a side effect of treatment.

Cut or shave your hair

Hair loss due to cancer treatment can be less obvious if you cut your hair short or shave it completely. Some people also find this more comfortable. It can also make it easier to fit headwear such as a wig. If you have a beard or moustache, you could also shave these this can help you get used to having less hair and heighten your sense of control over the situation.

Covering your hair loss

There are lots of headwear options available. We outline some popular choices below.

What Are The Signs You May Be Experiencing Hair Loss

Chemotherapy induced hair loss commonly occurs two to three weeks after the start of treatment. Symptoms can range from thinning of the hair shaft, hair breakage, partial hair loss to total hair loss. Hair regrowth takes approximately three to five months. In very rare cases hair may not regrow. Some people experience changes in the characteristics of their regrown hair, including different colour, texture or patchiness .

Coping With Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy

Everyoneâs experience with radiation therapy is different. Side effects vary from person to person, even when given the same type of treatment. Before your treatment, ask your health care team which physical side effects are possible and what to watch for. There can also be emotional side effects, and seeking out mental health support to help with anxiety or stress is important. Ask your health care team about ways to take care of yourself during the treatment period, including getting enough rest, eating well, and staying hydrated. Ask whether there are any restrictions on your regular exercise schedule or other physical activities.

And, continue talking with the team throughout your treatment. Always tell your health care team when side effects first appear, worsen, or continue despite treatment. That will allow your health care team to provide ways to help you feel better during and after treatment.

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If Youre Having Radiation Therapy To The Pelvis

Radiation therapy to the pelvis can cause side effects such as:

  • Bladder problems
  • Fertility problems
  • Changes in your sex life

You might also have some of the same problems people get from radiation to the abdomen, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.

Bladder problems

Radiation to the pelvis can cause problems with urination, including:

  • Pain or burning sensations
  • Blood in the urine
  • An urge to urinate often

Most of these problems get better over time, but radiation therapy can cause longer-term side effects as well:

Scarves Hats And Turbans

Does Scalp Med Work if Hair Loss is Caused by Radiation ...

Many people find that scarves and hats are the easiest, most comfortable, and versatile solution for managing hair loss from breast cancer treatment. Scarves and hats can hide your hair loss, help keep you warm, protect you from the sun, and they can be stylish and fun to wear. Learn more about Scarves, Hats, and Turbans for managing treatment-related hair loss.

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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.

Possible Side Effects Of Radiation Treatment For Prostate Cancer

The radiation used to destroy cancer cells can also hurt normal cells in the nearby area. Side effects from radiation treatment are related to the area of the body being treated. Patients start to have side effects a few weeks into their treatment. While side effects may be unpleasant, there are treatments to help deal with them. Most side effects are temporary and slowly start to go away once treatment is done.

You will be seen by your radiation oncology providers often during treatment. These visits are a chance to ask questions and to talk about any side effects and how to best manage them. You can also call your providers to speak about any side effects.

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Hair Growth After Chemo

With most types of chemotherapy, the cells in the hair follicles will regenerate enough to resume hair growth. They normally go through a cycle of active growth, then rest. Chemotherapy sends more of them into the rest phase , which usually lasts for 100 days.

Some people will note hair beginning to come back even before the end of treatment, but it is more common to see it growing back after two to three months. At first, you may see light amounts of fuzz-like hair return, followed by thicker amounts of hair.

Still, some people do not see hair regrowth. Some types of chemotherapy have a higher risk of permanent hair loss.

The effects of chemotherapy on the hair follicles can result in the regrown hair being a different color or texture, and having different waves or curls than before. In the breast cancer treatment study, 53% said their hair became wavier or curlier, 58% reported thinner hair, 6% noted thicker hair, 38% said their hair was grayer or whiter, and 5% reported darker hair.

How To Prepare For Expected Hair Loss With Radiation

Radiation therapy bald side hair loss

How you handle your specific case of hair loss will differ from the next person. Some people will be more affected than others, and there is no right or wrong way to feel and handle it. And, how you plan to prepare for potential hair loss depends entirely on what makes you most comfortable and what feels suitable for you.

Some people prefer to cut their hair, especially if it is long, so the impact of hair loss doesnt seem so great when you do start shedding. Others prefer to shave their heads entirely ahead of time if they expect to lose their hair, which usually happens with chemotherapy.

If you dont plan to make any major changes, be sure to use a gentle shampoo that is ph-balancing and try a soft-bristled brush when combing your hair. Also, avoid dying and bleaching your hair, or using hot irons and curlers, as it may cause your hair to fall out more quickly. Finally, you may want to use a different fabric on your pillowcases, such as satin or silk, to minimize friction while you sleep.

Some people who do expect hair loss may wish to look for a wig ahead of time while they still have their hair. If you have one made for yourself, your wig stylist should be able to match your hair color, texture, and length, so it is similar to your natural hair.

For more information on hair loss with radiation therapy, connect with your oncologist and explore the resources for hair loss at the National Cancer Institute.

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Day Of Your Simulation

You may need to drink 1 glass of water 1 hour before your simulation and on each day of your treatment. This will make your bladder full and will move your small intestine away from the area receiving radiation. Your radiation oncologist or nurse will tell you if you need to do this.

Once you arrive

A member of your radiation therapy team will check you in. You will be asked to state and spell your full name and birth date many times. This is for your safety. People with the same or similar name may be having care on the same day as you.

You will be greeted by your radiation therapist. They will take a photograph of your face. This picture will be used to identify you throughout your treatment.

Your radiation therapist will then explain the simulation to you. If you havent already signed a consent form, your radiation oncologist will review everything with you, and ask for your signature.

Getting contrast

You may get contrast before your procedure. Contrast makes your small intestine easier to see on the scan. It can also be used to locate the bladder, rectum, and vagina . If you need contrast, you will get it in 1 or more of the following ways:

You may also have a catheter inserted into your rectum to remove air. This will help your radiation therapist see your rectum on the scan.

A temporary marker may also be placed near your anus. This will be removed at the end of your simulation and will not be used again until your treatment begins. This will take about 30 minutes.

Hormonal And Targeted Therapies Overview

There may be no change to hair or scalpSome therapies may cause hair changes such as hair to become curlier, more brittle or a change in texture.

Scalp changes Some people notice changes to their skin such as the skin on their scalp may become drier.

Mild hair thinning it is important to note the difference between mild hair thinning and other types of hair thinning hair loss. Unlike some commonly known chemotherapy treatments, the vast majority of hormonal and targeted therapies dont cause total hair loss or mass hair thinning. You may see mild hair thinning noted as a side effect.

The term mild hair thinning tends to describe hair falling out a bit more then usual. Depending on your hairstyle this may result in very mild hair thinning that is hardly noticeable or a reduction of the total mass of hair or maybe an area that might be more viably thinner.

Men may find that facial hair e.g. beard may be sparser then normal.

New hair growth:

Hair is expected to return to normal if hair has thinned it is expected that the hair will return to a normal hair growth cycle once treatment is complete.

It may take a while and the hair texture and colour may be different than before.

Support and further guidance

If you need ideas and help for hair thinning take a look in our sections Wig guide and Scarves, hats & head wear. We have also created a dedicated section all about New hair growth.

We hope this will support you.

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What Is Hair Loss

Some cancer treatments may cause hair loss. This is due to the fact that any treatment which acts on growing cancer cells may also affect other growing cells like hair roots . Before treatment starts, talk to your doctor about the possibility of hair loss as a side effect of cancer treatment and the level of hair loss you can expect.

When Will I Begin To Lose My Hair

Does Radiation Treatment Cause Hair Loss?

You may start to see your hair thin or fall out 1 to 4 weeks after your first chemotherapy treatment and 4 weeks after you receive radiation therapy.

The amount of hair that falls out or thins depends on the type, dose, and timing of your treatments. The speed at which it falls out also varies from person to person. You may first notice hair on your pillow in the morning or see it when you shower or brush your hair.

Some people will experience hair thinning rather than hair loss. Hair thinning is when your hair feels and looks thinner in texture. Talk with your healthcare team about what to expect after your chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

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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.

How Soon Might I Have Side Effects From Radiation Therapy

There are two kinds of radiation side effects: early and late. Early side effects, such as nausea and fatigue, usually donât last long. They may start during or right after treatment and last for several weeks after it ends, but then they get better. Late side effects, such as lung or heart problems, may take years to show up and are often permanent when they do.

The most common early side effects are fatigue and skin problems. You might get others, such as hair loss and nausea, depending on where you get radiation.

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What Side Effects Occur With Radiation Therapy To The Stomach And Abdomen

If you are having radiation treatment to the stomach or some portion of the abdomen, you may experience an upset stomach, nausea or diarrhea. Your doctor can prescribe medicines to relieve these problems. Do not take any home remedies during your treatment unless you first check with your doctor or nurse.

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