Why Does Hair Loss Occur During Treatment? The normal scalp has 100,000 hairs! Some people have thin hair; others are blessed with thick hair. Ten to fifteen percent of your hair is in the resting phase. Eighty-five to ninety percent is actively growing and is susceptible to chemotherapy and radiation. The degree of hair loss depends on the chemotherapy drug, the dosage of chemotherapy or radiation, and how it is given.
Hair loss, or alopecia, occurs because anticancer drugs
can also affect normal cells, including the cells responsible for hair growth.
This effect, however, is not permanent, and healthy cells grow back
normally once chemotherapy is completed.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hair Loss?
Chemotherapy: Hair loss, alopecia, will start approximately 2-3 weeks after your first dose of chemotherapy, but won't be total until 1-2 months have elapsed. Hair loss is reversible and will be back totally about 3-4 months after the last chemotherapy dose. Your hair may even grow while you're on chemotherapy. This doesn't mean that the chemotherapy isn't working. Unfortunately, some of this regrown hair may also fall out. Hair on the head is most commonly affected, but hair loss may also occur on the face, arms, legs, underarms, and pubic area. The scalp may become tender and hair that is still growing may become dull and dry.
Radiation: Only hair that
is in a treatment field will be affected with hair loss. Generally, the hair
loss will begin approximately 2-3 weeks after the start of treatments. This
hair will grow back after the treatments are completed. If a higher dose of
radiation is delivered, there is a chance that the hair loss will be
permanent. Please check with your Radiation Oncologist or nurse if you have
questions and concerns about this.
Some Suggestions about Hair
Loss: Hair loss, even when expected, can be very
discouraging and depressing. Many cancer support groups can offer advice and
services to help you understand and handle all the effects of cancer,
chemotherapy, and radiation.
Losing hair from your head, face, or body can be hard to
accept. It's common and perfectly all right to feel angry or depressed about
this loss. Talking about your feelings can help. Remember that the hair lost
during treatment may grow back even thicker than