Emotional And Psychological Issues
Emotional states and psychological conditions, particularly those relating to stress and anxiety, can cause hair loss. This is amongst the leading causes of hair loss in women. Stress raises the male hormone androgen that can in-turn cause hair loss. Medicine used to treat conditions such as depression and anxiety can further potentiate the effect. Hair loss in such cases is nearly always non-permanent.
Early And Late Effects Of Radiation Therapy
- Early side effects happen during or shortly after treatment. These side effects tend to be short-term, mild, and treatable. Theyre usually gone within a few weeks after treatment ends. The most common early side effects are fatigue and skin changes. Other early side effects usually are related to the area being treated, such as hair loss and mouth problems when radiation treatment is given to this area.
- Late side effects can take months or even years to develop. They can occur in any normal tissue in the body that has received radiation. The risk of late side effects depends on the area treated as well as the radiation dose that was used. Careful treatment planning can help avoid serious long-term side effects. Its always best to talk to your radiation oncologist about the risk of long-term side effects.
Radiation Therapy And Risk Of A Second Cancer
In rare cases, radiation therapy to the breast can cause a second cancer.
The most common cancers linked to radiation therapy are sarcomas . For women who are long-term smokers, radiation therapy may also increase the risk of lung cancer .
The risk of a second cancer is small. If your radiation oncologist recommends radiation therapy, the benefits of radiation therapy outweigh this risk.
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Urinary And Bladder Changes
Radiation therapy to the pelvis can cause urinary and bladder problems by irritating the healthy cells of the bladder wall and urinary tract. These changes may start 35 weeks after radiation therapy begins. Most problems go away 28 weeks after treatment is over. You may experience:
- Burning or pain when you begin to urinate or after you urinate
- Trouble starting to urinate
- Bladder spasms, which are like painful muscle cramps
Ways to manage include:
- Drink lots of fluids. Aim for 68 cups of fluids each day, or enough that your urine is clear to light yellow in color.
- Avoid coffee, black tea, alcohol, spices and all tobacco products.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse if you think you have urinary or bladder problems. You may need to provide a urine sample to check for infection.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse if you have incontinence. He/she may refer you to a physical therapist to assess your problem. The therapist may recommend exercises to help you improve your bladder control.
- Your doctor may prescribe medications to help you urinate, reduce burning or pain, and ease bladder spasms.
When Will My Hair Grow Back
Its complicated. The answer, of course, depends on what type of treatment you undergo as well as all the unique variables that make you you, including genetics, age, hair type, and your personal hair growth cycles.
That said, its safe to say you can expect to see new hair growth about 2-3 months after chemotherapy and about 3-6 months after radiation.
Keep in mind that you may not recognize your hair when it returns. Some people who had straight hair might end up with curly hair. You may have had a thick head of hair prior to treatment, but may sport thinner locks afterwards. Many patients find their new hair is even a different color.
While most patients eventually get their hair back, there are some instances when a radiation dose is so strong it causes permanent hair loss.
To learn more about Choice Cancer Care and our personalized way of partnering with our patients, check out our Cancer Guide . To speak with one of our specialists, schedule a consultation at any of our Texas offices in Plano, Lewisville, Irving, Decatur, and Southlake. Call us today at 214-379-2700 or book online.
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Managing Ongoing Hair Thinning
Breast cancer treatments such as hormonal therapy, targeted therapy, and chemotherapy can cause some people to have ongoing mild to moderate hair loss. If youre concerned that your hair isnt growing back or is noticeably thinner than in the past, its a good idea to see a dermatologist. If possible, seek out one who specializes in hair loss or an onco-dermatologist who focuses on problems with the hair, skin, and nails that can develop during cancer treatment. The dermatologist will order blood tests to check whether there are other reasons for your hair loss besides the effects of breast cancer treatments. Thyroid problems, nutritional deficiencies, and other factors can play a role in hair loss.
For mild to moderate hair loss, dermatologists often recommend Rogaine , an over-the-counter medication that promotes hair growth. Its safe for people with a history of breast cancer and moderately effective. But check with your oncologist before you start using minoxidil. In most cases, you can use it while you take hormonal therapy or targeted therapy, but not during chemotherapy treatment. Look for products labeled 5% minoxidil foam that you apply to your scalp when your hair and scalp are dry. Its ok for women to use minoxidil products labeled for men. Minoxidil is thought to stimulate hair growth by, among other things, improving blood flow in the scalp and prolonging the growth phase of each hair follicle.
Radiation Treatment And Hair Loss
Radiation therapy uses a high-energy beam to damage quickly growing cells in your body. The goal is to target cancer cells, but some normal cells get damaged as well.
Radiation only causes hair loss on the particular part of the body treated. If radiation is used to treat the breast, there is no hair loss on your head. But there might be loss of hair around the nipple, if you have hair there.
Radiation to the brain, used to treat breast cancer that has spread to the brain, can cause hair loss on your head. Depending on the dose of radiation, your hair may be patchier when it grows back or it may not grow back.
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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.
Caring For Hair That Grows Back
When your hair begins to grow back, it will be much thinner and more easily damaged than your original hair. It may also be a different texture or color. The following tips may help you take care of the hair that grows back.
Limit washing your hair to twice a week.
Massage your scalp gently to remove dry skin and flakes.
Use a wide-tooth comb instead of a brush for your hair. When styling your hair, limit the amount of pinning, curling, or blow-drying with high heat.
Avoid permanent or semi-permanent hair color for at least 3 months after treatment ends.
Avoid curling or straightening your hair with chemical products such as permanent wave solutions until it all grows back. You may need to wait up to a year before you can chemically curl or straighten their hair. Before trying chemical products again, test a small patch of hair to see how it reacts. You can also ask your hairdresser for suggestions.
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Effect Of Emf On Hair Loss
Recent studies have shown that EMF radiations are responsible for hair loss in women.
The Journal of Cosmetology and Trichology has published research in 2016 that studied hair loss due to EMF exposure. The patients, 95% women, reported that there were unusual patches of hair loss on their scalp close to their ears.
The strands of hair were fragile but were still firmly anchored in the scalp. The problem appeared to be the thinning and slower growth of hair strands.
The common theme across all patients was the heavy use of mobile phones for calling in their daily life.
According to the study, the patches had thin and shorter hair while thick terminal hair was found at the borders of the patches.
The researchers concluded that EMF radiations emitted from mobile phones during frequent calls caused the breakage of single-strand DNA and altered hormonal regulation.
They also found that antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can help the recovery of damaged cells. However, they stated that it would take several months, even years, for the hair thickness and scalp health to get back to their initial situation.
One of the obvious remedies is to limit the usage of mobile phones, especially for calling since this activity increases the proximity of the phone to the scalp. Or use an anti-radiation cell phone case that will stop the radiation.
Does All Radiation Therapy Cause Hair Loss
Radiation therapy will generally cause hair loss to the body part that is being treated. For example, if your arm were treated with radiation, you may lose any hair on your arm, but the hair on your head would not be affected. The degree of hair loss will depend on several factors, including the size of the area being treated and the total dose of radiation being given. Hair loss is greatest within the treatment field, but may also occur in the area where the radiation beam exits the body.
Chemotherapy drugs also can cause hair loss. If you are also receiving chemotherapy, you should discuss whether or not the medications you are receiving may cause hair loss. When hair loss is caused by chemotherapy, it will include all the hair on your body . Learn more about hair loss caused by chemotherapy.
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Coping With Hair Loss: Tips For Families
Hair loss can be one of the most upsetting side effects of cancer treatment. Hair loss is a visible reminder of being sick. For children and teens trying to be normal and fit in with their peers, this can have a big impact on well-being and quality of life. The care team, including child life specialists, social workers, and psychologists, can help prepare families and provide resources. It can also help to hear from other families about their experiences.
Is The Hair Loss Permanent
Hair loss caused by radiation therapy may be temporary or permanent. At lower doses, hair loss is often temporary, but at higher doses, hair loss can be permanent. Your provider can discuss whether the hair loss is expected to be temporary or permanent, based on the planned dose of radiation. Each patient’s situation is unique, however, and it is not possible to guarantee regrowth of hair even at lower doses of radiation therapy. Hair loss caused by chemotherapy is often temporary.
When regrowth occurs, there may be changes in texture and color. It is common for hair to grow back curlier than it was however, a change of color is less common.
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Chemotherapy Hair Loss Timeline
Hair loss usually doesnt happen immediately after chemotherapy. Instead, it may start after a few treatments.
A study of people with breast cancer treated with chemotherapy found that 99.9% experienced hair loss, beginning at day 18 of treatment, on average. Only 4% still had hair loss after two years.
Will Radiation Therapy Cause My Hair To Fall Out
Only people who get radiation to the scalp or the brain may have hair loss. Others won’t. If it does happen, itâs usually sudden and comes out in clumps. In most cases, your hair will grow back after therapy stops, but it may be thinner or have a different texture.
Some people choose to cut their hair short before treatment begins to make less weight on the hair shaft. If you lose hair on top of your head, be sure to wear a hat or a scarf to protect your scalp from the sun when you go outside. If you decide to buy a wig, ask the doctor to write a prescription for one and check to see if it’s covered by your insurance or is a tax-deductible expense.
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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.
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:
Tips For Managing Hair Loss
- If you are having radiation therapy to your head or scalp area, think about cutting your hair short before treatment starts. This will make any hair loss easier to manage.
- Wear a wig or toupee, or leave your head bare. Do whatever feels comfortable and gives you the most confidence.
- If you prefer to leave your head bare, wear a hat, beanie, turban or scarf to protect your scalp against sunburn and the cold.
- If you plan to wear a wig, choose it before treatment starts so you can match your own hair colour and style. Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for information about wig services.
- As your hair grows back, talk to your hairdresser or barber about how to style it. It may be thinner, or curly where it was once straight, and the new growth may be patchy for a while.
- Contact Look Good Feel Better. This program teaches people how to manage the appearance-related side effects caused by cancer treatment. For more on this, call 1800 650 960.
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