Preparing For Your Simulation
No special preparation is needed before your simulation. You can eat and drink as you normally would on the day of your procedure.
Depending on your treatment plan, you may need more detailed imaging, including magnetic resonance imaging which will be used to help plan your treatment.
During your simulation, youll be lying in one position for a long time. If you think youll be uncomfortable lying still, you can take acetaminophen or your usual pain medication before your simulation. If you think you may get anxious during your procedure, speak with your doctor about whether medication may be helpful.
Wear comfortable clothes that are easy to take off because you may need to change into a hospital gown. Dont wear jewelry, powders, or lotions.
Remove devices from your skin
The manufacturer recommends taking these devices off your skin before your simulation or treatment:
- Continuous glucose monitor
If you use one of these, ask your radiation oncologist if you need to take it off. If you do, make sure to bring an extra device to put on after your simulation or treatment.
While your device is off, you may not be sure how to manage your glucose . Ask the healthcare provider who manages your diabetes care. Make sure to do this before your simulation or treatment appointment.
What Are Possible Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy
The side effects of radiation therapy to the brain may not occur until two to three weeks after the start of your therapy. Many people experience hair loss, but the amount varies from person to person. Hair may grow back once therapy is finished.
Skin irritation is the second most frequently reported side effect. The skin around your ears and scalp may become dry, itchy, red, or tender. Do not try to treat this side effect on your own. Seek professionalism medical treatment as soon as it occurs. Fatigue is another possible side effect. The best way to fight fatigue is to get on a daily exercise regimen that is tolerable and sustainable, eat a healthy diet, and rely on friends and family for support. Your normal energy levels should return about six weeks after you finish your therapy. Fatigue may be the worst two to three weeks after you complete prolonged radiation treatment
Edema is also a common side effect. Tell your oncologist if you have a headache or a feeling of pressure. The doctor may prescribe medications to help reduce brain swelling, prevent seizures, or control pain. If you receive chemotherapy and radiation therapy at the same time, you may experience more severe side effects. Your doctor can suggest ways to ease these symptoms.
Other possible side effects include:
- hearing problems
How Does Radiation Therapy Work In Treating Brain Cancer
Radiation therapy is used to shrink tumors and slow the growth of brain cancer. Its often used together with chemotherapy or surgery to give doctors the best chance of completely removing the tumor. Its also used for people who arent able to undergo surgery.
Radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA. Radiation is concentrated beams of energy. Its also used in X-rays in lower doses to produce an image of the inside of your body. When the DNA of cancer cells is damaged, the cells are unable to divide or grow and eventually die.
However, radiation therapy also damages the DNA of healthy cells around the part of your body where radiation is delivered. Its especially prone to damaging rapidly growing cells such as stem cells.
Stem cells have the potential to become any other type of cell. When these are damaged, your body is unable to create new cells to replace the cells in your body when they die at least temporarily. Not replacing these cells may cause you to develop side effects that usually pass after 2 to 3 weeks.
Radiation therapy can cause side effects due to damage to healthy brain tissue and cells around your head and neck. The goal is to deliver the lowest possible effective dose of radiation to minimize damage to healthy brain tissue.
Some side effects appear shortly after treatment while others may not occur for months or years.
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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.
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.
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Hair Loss And Cancer Treatment
If treatment will cause hair loss, try wearing fun scarves and earringsor a cap, from time to time.
Some types of chemotherapy cause the hair on your head and other parts of your body to fall out. Radiation therapy can also cause hair loss on the part of the body that is being treated. Hair loss is called alopecia. Talk with your health care team to learn if the cancer treatment you will be receiving causes hair loss. Your doctor or nurse will share strategies that have help others, including those listed below.
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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Hair Regrowth After Radiation
Hi! I am interested in hearing how long it took your hair to grow back after radiation and/or chemo specifically Truebeam and TMZ. Not sure it matters, but I have AA3 and have had 3 craniotomies related to the original tumor.
Great question. I asked that too. After resection and radiation/chemo I started my SoC . It was the radiation that caused my hair loss. Luckily focused on frontal lobe but still caused me to look disheveled. So I crew cut my hair, with wifes help, and now on upcoming 5th TMZ week, the hair is coming back. Slower than I prefer but coming back. Be patient. Get home hair groomer. Youll look good again. And by the way, lesser hair has no impact on who we are.
So I am a woman and I now have needed to shave my head for more than a year to keep it all relatively even for about 6 months I have seen some growth in the spot that was completely bare, but it is thin and patchy there. So I am just wondering if it will ever fill in there
Whole brain and spinal cord irradiation – all my hair fell out, and it started growing back about 2 months after my final radiation day. However, it took a little over 6 months to have even a fine covering of tiny hairs over my entire scalp. There were just sporadic hairs with a whole lot of bald for a long time.
That’s how my brother feels! Lol whatever you have to do.
Few weeks. Im in optune so i have to shave my head abs constantly it grows so fasr
How Long Does Radiation Hair Loss Last
This also depends on several factors, including the specifics of your radiotherapy treatment plans and your bodys natural rhythm for healing once radiation is complete.
The hair normally starts growing back within a few months after the radiation therapy is completed, but in some cases, hair follicles suffer permanent damage, said Dr. Pak.
With low doses of radiation, alopecia is often temporary, and you can expect to see regrowth happen within a few months of ending cancer treatments. With a higher radiation dose, however, you might notice a greater alopecia severity, and it might take longer to see hair regrowth. In some cases, hair loss might be permanent. Ask your cancer care team or radiation oncologists about the treatment dose you are receiving and if any hair loss may be permanent.
Some radiation patients might experience long-term and even permanent hair loss, called persistent radiation-induced alopecia . Persistent alopecia following radiotherapy is not well understood, though initial research suggests it is dose-dependent and typically seen in patients receiving very high doses of radiation. It seems to cause permanent damage to follicles that’s similar to forms of scarring alopecia like central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia and some forms of lupus. Its estimated that 60% of radiation patients experience pRIA.
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Take A Holistic Approach To Hair Health
Support your bodys ability to heal and regrow healthy hair by taking a holistic approach. By focusing on tools in your toolkit that are good for your general health, you can also support your scalp and follicles. Exercise, sleep, stress management and a healthy diet are important pillars for whole-body health.
To help promote natural hair growth after radiation therapy, I recommend biotin, shared Dr. Pak. Start eating more biotin-rich foods such as sweet potatoes, mushrooms and avocados, he added.
Biotin, along with other vitamins like A, B-5 and E and minerals like iron and zinc, are important for healthy hair. To round out any gaps in your dietary sources of these vitamins and minerals, consider a hair-friendly supplement like our GRO Biotin Gummies that have been carefully formulated with optimal hair health in mind.
What Kind Of Hair Loss Does Radiation Cause
The kind of hair loss you will experience depends upon the type of radiation you get, how much you get , the part of your body that is receiving the radiation and your general health and unique physiology. If you will be receiving radiation to the head and/or neck, hair loss on the head is to be expected.
As mentioned, radiation will typically cause hair thinning and/or loss to the body part that is being treated. How much hair loss you might experience can be impacted by several factors, like the size of the area being treated and the dose of radiation being given. You might see hair thinning and/or lose your hair not only at the site of radiation treatment but also on the reverse side of the body, where the radiation beams exit the body.
Hair can become thinner, weaker and break over the course of your radiation therapy. However, more often, hair loss is sudden and comes out in clumps.
Ways To Manage Hair Loss
Talk with your health care team about ways to manage before and after hair loss:
- Treat your hair gently. You may want to use a hairbrush with soft bristles or a wide-tooth comb. Do not use hair dryers, irons, or products such as gels or clips that may hurt your scalp. Wash your hair with a mild shampoo. Wash it less often and be very gentle. Pat it dry with a soft towel.
- You have choices. Some people choose to cut their hair short to make it easier to deal with when it starts to fall out. Others choose to shave their head. If you choose to shave your head, use an electric shaver so you wont cut yourself. If you plan to buy a wig, get one while you still have hair so you can match it to the color of your hair. If you find wigs to be itchy and hot, try wearing a comfortable scarf or turban.
- Protect and care for your scalp. Use sunscreen or wear a hat when you are outside. Choose a comfortable scarf or hat that you enjoy and that keeps your head warm. If your scalp itches or feels tender, using lotions and conditioners can help it feel better.
- Talk about your feelings. Many people feel angry, depressed, or embarrassed about hair loss. It can help to share these feelings with someone who understands. Some people find it helpful to talk with other people who have lost their hair during cancer treatment. Talking openly and honestly with your children and close family members can also help you all. Tell them that you expect to lose your hair during treatment.
Managing Your Hair Loss
Losing your hair can cause more than a change in your physical appearance. It can be an emotional challenge that affects your self-image and quality of life. It is important to be kind to yourself during this stressful time.
People cope with hair loss in different ways. Thinking about how you feel most comfortable in managing hair loss before, during, and after treatment may help. And, your choices may change over time.
Cold cap therapy
Wearing a cap that cools the scalp can help prevent hair loss from drugs given through a vein. This treatment is called scalp cryotherapy. You wear the cap before, during, and after chemotherapy.
The cold makes the blood vessels in the skin of your head narrower. Less blood and less of the chemotherapy drug reaches your hair follicles through the blood vessels. Keeping your scalp very cold also helps prevent damage to the hair follicles. Talk with your health care team to learn if cold cap therapy is available and might work for you.
An over-the-counter medication called minoxidil may help thinning hair from hormonal therapy or targeted therapy. It may also help if your hair does not grow back completely after chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a stem cell/bone marrow transplant.
There are also other medications you can take by mouth. These include spironolactone and finasteride .
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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.
How Long Do Side Effects Last
Remember that the type of radiation side effects you might have depends on the prescribed dose and schedule. Most side effects go away within a few months of ending treatment. Some side effects may continue after treatment ends because it takes time for the healthy cells to recover from radiation.
Side effects might limit your ability to do some things. What you can do will depend on how you feel. Some patients are able to go to work or enjoy leisure activities while they get radiation therapy. Others find they need more rest than usual and cant do as much. If you have side effects that are bothersome and affecting your daily activities or health, the doctor may stop your treatments for a while, change the schedule, or change the type of treatment youre getting. Tell your cancer care team about any side affects you notice so they can help you with them.
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Talking With Your Health Care Team About Hair Loss
Prepare for your visit by making a list of questions to ask. Consider adding these questions to your list:
- Is treatment likely to cause my hair to fall out?
- How should I protect and care for my head? Are there products that you recommend? Ones I should avoid?
- Where can I get a wig or hairpiece?
- What support groups could I meet with that might help?
- When will my hair grow back?
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.
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