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Cancer and Hair Loss – The Facts

Cancer and Hair Loss – The Facts

Hair Loss as a Side Effect

Many people know that losing your hair can come as a side effect of cancer treatment, so we’re going to look at why this happens.

Radiotherapy can cause targeted hair loss in the area it’s administered. However, we’re going to focus more on chemotherapy today.

Cause of Hair Loss

The medication used for chemotherapy is powerful. After all, its main aim is to destroy the cancerous cells within your body.

However, chemo drugs aren’t able to differentiate between cancerous cells and normal cells within the body.

As a result, they can attack all the cells which rapidly reproduce, including those in your hair follicle.

Consequently, the patient may lose their hair.

This loss can happen gradually, or it can occur in clumps. Alongside this, patients could just experience thinning, or they may experience bald patches or total baldness.

On extremely rare occasions, no hair loss occurs, but this depends on the treatment and your body’s reaction.

Dealing With the Hair Loss

Hair loss during chemotherapy can be difficult, especially as it proves to be a regular reminder of the condition to both the patient and those around them.

These are a few options available to help deal with the loss:

·         Use of cold caps (May help prevent or minimise loss – but be aware, they’re not always effective)

·         Be gentle with your hair – you don’t want to cause further damage!

·         Wear a head covering (such as a scarf) to help hide the loss and to protect the scalp

·         Wear a wig, or a hairpiece if you experience thinning of your hair over the total loss

After Treatment

Chemotherapy-induced alopecia is tough to experience, but it’s important to remember that it’s a side effect you’ll gain from potentially life-saving treatment.

In the majority of cases, the hair will grow back after treatment.

It may time some time, and there may initially be changes in structure or colour, but it’ll more than likely regrow.

Patients should speak to their care team if they’re especially concerned about hair loss and the social and physical impacts associated with it.

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