Sunday, March 3, 2024

I Didn’t Lose My Hair During Chemo

Who Can Use Scalp Cooling

Losing my hair at 21: Chemotherapy hair loss, my experience (my cancer journey)

Scalp cooling is currently approved for women and men of any age being treated with chemotherapy for most cancers. However, scalp cooling isnt recommended if you have leukemia or other certain blood-related cancers.

Most people can use it with few side effects. Common side effects are headaches and feeling cold. If cold temperatures really affect you, then the therapy may not be right for you. Talk with your doctor about any questions you may have about hair loss and scalp cooling before and during treatment.

Hair Growth While Having Chemo

Hi. I am currently having chemo for breast cancer. I lost my hair around cycle 2 but since cycle 5 it’s been growing back. I asked the nurse and oncologist and they both said it is rare. I was wondering if anyone else has had this.

Hi Sueque1,

Welcome to Cancer Chat. I hope you’re getting on OK at the moment with everything.

It sounds like the hair growth is a positive, although I can understand you’re keen to know more about it.

If anyone here has similar experience then hopefully they’ll be along soon – my reply here will boost your post so more people will see it.

Wishing you all the best,

Hi there @Sueque1

I’ve been having chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, so a different cancer type to you, however the drugs used also are associated with hair loss.

When I first started the chemo my hair fell out quite quickly although I was never bald it was extremely patchy and my hair line receded about 2 inches!

However after about 4 months of treatment when my fatigue was too much for me to even bother having someone buzz the remaining few patches I had, I realized it was growing back.

For the rest of the treatment lots of areas have grown back. It’s definitely sparse and patchy, so I have kept it all buzzed down to a grade 1 just to make it easier to wear wigs and manage, but left to it’s own devices it’s definitely growing. Its been weeks since I found any hair on my pillow or shower or sink.

Best wishes

Is Chemo Working If I Dont Lose My Hair

Medically reviewed by Clare Sullivan, BSN, MPH, CRRN

Its well known that many chemotherapy medications used to treat cancer can bring undesirable side effects, such as hair loss, lack of appetite, and fatigue. But experiencing such symptoms is not an indication of whether cancer treatment is working.

Chemotherapy interferes with a cells ability to grow and divide, so it tends to kill rapidly dividing cells, such as cancer cells. However, some normal cells in our body also divide rapidly, such as hair cells and cells that create the stomach lining. Whether or not you will have side effects during cancer treatment depends on a variety of factors, including your overall health, the drug dosage, and the types of medication you take. A number of chemo drugs, for example, dont cause hair loss because they are better able to target cancer cells not healthy cells.

Doctors can choose from more than 100 different chemo drugs, used in many combinations, to treat specific types of cancer and related diseases. All of these medications and drug combinations come with their own unique set of side effects, which can vary from person to person. Some patients report only relatively minor side effects that last a short time during chemo treatment, while others may have more serious complications. But these side effects have nothing to do with whether a treatment is working.

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/ Why Does Chemotherapy Make My Hair Fall Out

Hair loss or alopecia is the best known and most visible side effect of chemotherapy. Actually chemotherapy is an umbrella term for any cancer treatment using what are known as cytostatics. Cancer cells tend to divide rapidly. Cytostatic drugs are drugs that aim to quickly destroy these rapidly dividing cells or to delay their growth. Unfortunately, they also kill other, healthy cells that also divide rapidly, such as the cells in our hair follicles that make our hair grow. This is why chemotherapy also causes hair loss.

It Didnt Change Who I Was I Was Still Me With Or Without Hair

12 Tips &  Tricks to Get You Through Chemotherapy

I tried to wait as long as possible before shaving my head. I finally did so just after Id finished my first six months of chemotherapy. As tough as it was for me, it was probably harder for my family. When I shaved my head, it was an extremely emotional day and, of course, I cried. It was a shock to the system but it didnt change who I was. I was still me with or without hair.

I wore a few wigs while my hair was growing back. I felt like me again and I had my little security blanket back. But, ultimately, wearing wigs didnt help my hair grow.

Eventually, it did grow back. But the cancer came back as well. My second round of chemotherapy was a lot more intense, so I lost my hair way quicker than I had the first time. One morning, I woke up in hospital and was shocked by the clumps all on my pillow and in my bed. As soon as I got home, I knew it was time to shave it off again. It was hard, but I knew it was going to grow back.

Its now been about three-and-a-half years since I finished treatment and my hair is back and long again. My plan is to keep growing and keep it as healthy as possible then I would love to be able to donate it to the Little Princess Trust.

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About Hair Loss Or Hair Thinning

Hair loss is one of the most well known side effects of cancer treatment. For many people losing their hair can be distressing and devastating.

It can be a constant reminder of your cancer and what youre going through. But for most people, their hair will grow back once treatment has finished.

Cancer drugs can cause:

  • mild thinning of your hair
  • partial hair loss, or loss of patches of hair
  • complete hair loss

Chemotherapy is the type of cancer drug treatment most likely to cause hair loss.

Complete hair loss is very unlikely with any other type of treatment. But some other cancer drugs can cause hair thinning. It is not possible to tell beforehand who will be affected or how badly.

Hair loss also depends on factors such as:

  • the type of drug or combination of drugs you are taking
  • how sensitive you are to the drug
  • your drug treatment in the past

/ Why Doesnt Every Chemo Patient Lose His Or Her Hair

Chemotherapy uses a specific mix of cancer drugs. The mix you will receive depends on the type of cancer you have. Some drugs cause hair loss, others cause little to no hair loss whatsoever. Some chemo treatments do not make peoples hair fall out but it does become thinner or duller. Your doctor is the best person to inform you about how much hair loss you can expect.

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Not All Chemotherapy Causes Hair Loss

Some types of chemotherapy are more likely to cause hair loss than others. Talk with your doctor to learn if hair loss is a common side effect of the chemotherapy medications youve been prescribed. Your doctor can help you learn what to expect and when to expect it.

In most cases, hair loss begins within 1 to 4 weeks of starting chemotherapy, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The degree of hair loss can vary, depending on the type and dose of chemotherapy medication you receive.

/ Is It Only The Hair On My Head That I Will Lose

Avoiding hair loss during Chemotherapy

Besides the hair on your head, you can also lose the rest of your body hair, i.e., the hair on your arms and legs, your eyebrows, eyelashes, armpit and pubic hair. Again, this depends on the type of chemotherapy and it can also vary from person to person.

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Hair Loss And Regrowth After Chemotherapy

Losing your hair during chemotherapy is not easy, but it can be easier to cope with if you have a better idea of what to expect.

Heres what cancer medical professionals and survivors told The Patient Story worked for them.

Contributing perspectives in this resource come from multiple cancer patients as well as Dr. Doug Blayney of Stanford Medical Center.

Hair Loss Background

When does hair fall out after chemo and how long does it take to grow back?

This varies person to person. Generally speaking, hair loss caused by chemotherapy happens around two to four weeks after the start of treatment or around the start of your second chemotherapy cycle. Often people may find they start losing their hair in clumps during a shower, while brushing hair, or discover it on their pillow after sleep.

The extent and pace of hair loss depends on a number of treatment factors, such as the type of chemo drug, dosage, frequency of treatments, and how the chemo is administered.

Be sure to ask your doctor and/or nurse about your chemotherapy regimen and whether its known to cause hair loss.

For the most part, thankfully, chemotherapy does not cause permanent hair loss. In rare cases, however, some higher-dose radiation therapy targeting the head may result in permanent hair loss.

Will hair look the same when it regrows after chemo?

Styling & Solutions

When should I cut my hair or shave my head?
Can cold caps or cooling caps prevent or lessen hair loss?
What kind of wigs are there?

Other FAQs

Effect Of Other Cancer Therapies

The newer targeted therapies for cancer don’t usually cause total hair loss like chemotherapy drugs but can result in changes such as thinning of the hair and dryness, as well as changes in texture similar to chemo curls. Some targeted therapies may also affect the pigmentation of hair, often causing the hair to become darker.

Some of the targeted therapies that have been linked with hair changes or hair loss include:

  • Cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 inhibitors such as Ibrance , Kisqali , and Verzenio
  • VEGF inhibitors such as Nexavar
  • BRAF inhibitors such as Zelboraf and Tafinlar
  • BCR/ABL inhibitors such as Tasigna and Gleevec

Some of the hormonal therapies commonly used for breast cancer have been associated with thinning of the hair for some people. Unlike chemotherapy, people may use hormonal therapies for many months or even years before they notice the changes in their hair. Hormonal therapies more often linked to hair loss include:

Immunotherapy drugs for cancer, at least checkpoint inhibitors, do not usually cause hair loss, though oftentimes these drugs are used along with chemotherapy. Researchers are looking at ways of harnessing the gene involved in autoimmune alopecia to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

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Will My Hair Fall Out All At Once

Not everyone who has treatment for lymphoma experiences hair loss. If you do, your hair usually begins to fall out within a couple of weeks of starting treatment. It usually starts at the top and sides of your head, above your ears. It might fall out gradually, in clumps, or quite quickly. You might notice hair on your pillow or clothes, in your hairbrush, or in the plug hole of your bath or shower. Speak to your medical team for information about what to expect based on the treatment you are having.

Can Anything Make My Hair Grow More Quickly

Heartache of cancer girl who accepts she

Some people think that if they rub or massage their scalp, their hair will grow more quickly. There is no evidence that this helps and, in fact, it could damage fragile new hair and so have a negative impact on hair regrowth.

There is some evidence that minoxidil solution might help it grow back faster. However, further research is needed. Speak to your medical team before using any over-the-counter medicines, to check that they are safe for you.

There are no complementary and alternative medicines recommended in the UK to help with treatment-related hair loss. This includes therapies and natural products such as vitamins, minerals and plant-based products.

If you are considering trying something to help your hair to re-grow, check with your medical team first that it is safe for you. Some could irritate your scalp and cause further hair loss.

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What Will My Chemo Schedule Be

How often and how long you get chemo will depend on the type of cancer you have. It will also depend on the type of chemo you need, side effects, and how well the chemo works. You may be given more than one medicine at a time. You may take oral chemo daily, weekly, or once or twice a month. Chemo is often given in cycles over a period of several months or more. This means that you will get the medicine for a period of time, and then you will have a break from it. This allows your body to grow new, healthy cells.

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Dealing With Hair Loss

Between endless doctors appointments and chemotherapy or radiation, dealing with cancer can be an incredibly overwhelming experience both physically and emotionally.

Hair loss adds a layer to an already tough situation for patients, says Dr. Norma DAgostino, a psychologist at Torontos Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

When their hair actually starts to fall out, it makes the reality of the situation sink in for people on a personal level. There tends to be like that moment of, Oh my God, Im a cancer patient,’ DAgostino said.

It also identifies them out into the world as a sick person rather than a healthy person, which makes them feel like their identity is now changing in the public and social realm.

The Canadian Cancer Society points out that this experience can be distressing for patients. Not only are there emotional effects, patients also need to think about protecting their scalps from the elements, including the sun.

Chemotherapy drugs damage hair follicles, making hair fall out, explains the American Cancer society. This varies from person to person, but within a few weeks of starting chemo, a patient may lose some or all of their hair.

Hair loss can be gradual or sudden. It may start falling out in clumps, or become loose when brushing. Chemo can also cause hair loss on other parts of the body, including eyebrows and eyelashes.

Hair typically starts to grow back before chemotherapy treatment ends, or very soon afterwards, the Canadian Cancer Society adds.

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Looking After Your Hair During Breast Cancer Treatment

If chemotherapy doesnt cause hair loss, it may make it brittle, dry or straw-like, so its a good idea to treat your hair as gently as possible. Hormone therapy can also cause the hair to thin and feel fragile.

Due to its structure, African and Caribbean hair is the most vulnerable to damage of all hair textures so it is recommended to take special care and use specific products.

Hair care tips

The following tips may be helpful for all hair types:

  • Use a mild, unperfumed shampoo and conditioner
  • Try not to wash your hair more than twice a week or less than once every ten days
  • Use warm rather than hot water
  • Pat your hair dry rather than rubbing it
  • Brush or comb your hair gently with a soft hairbrush or wide tooth plastic comb
  • Massage the scalp to improve the blood supply to the hair follicles

Things to avoid

You may want to avoid the following to help protect your hair:

  • Overly tight plaits or braids as they may cause tension and this may damage your hair
  • Using elastic bands to tie back hair
  • Hair colours and dyes, perms, relaxers and other products containing strong chemicals
  • Products containing alcohol, such as hairspray, which can irritate the scalp
  • Excessive heat from hair straighteners, hairdryers, hot brushes and heated rollers
  • Hair extensions, weaves and braids as these can weaken the hair

How Chemotherapy Affects New Hair Growth Following Treatment

Wigs For Cancer & Chemotherapy Hair Loss | Getting Wiggy With It

Your hair is made up of living cells at their roots, or hair follicles. Typically, the rest of your hair is in various stages of resting or falling out. Chemotherapy is a treatment plan where a drug, or combination of drugs, is administered either orally or through an IV. The reason chemotherapy causes hair loss is because hair follicles are one of the fastest growing cells in the human body, and when compromised by chemotherapy this prevents the hair follicles from growing.

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Lymphoma Treatment And Hair Loss

Hair loss is a side effect of some chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. Less commonly, it can be a side effect of antibody therapy.

Lymphoma treatment works on cells that divide rapidly, which includes lymphoma cells and hair cells this is why treatment can cause changes to your hair.

Not everyone who has treatment for lymphoma experiences changes to their hair. Whether youre affected or not depends on lots of factors, including: your treatment , your age, and your overall health, including any other conditions you might have.

Effects on your hair are usually short-term and can include:

  • slight thinning
  • changes in colour, which could include a streak or band of white hair
  • changes in texture, such as hair being thinner, coarser or more curly than before treatment.

Mostly, hair eventually goes back to how it was before treatment for lymphoma.

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