Chemo and Hair Loss

One of the biggest concerns among chemo patients, male and female, is hair loss. While it would be easy for some of us to say, “Don’t they have other things to worry about?” the truth is, very few of us wouldn’t be bothered by the thought of going bald during chemo, so let’s get that out of the way.

Chemo causes hair loss—not just on the head, but all over the body—because chemo drugs are powerful, and they’re designed to fight and kill cancer cells, which grow quickly. Unfortunately, chemo drugs don’t differentiate between a cancer cell and a cell in the hair root—they kill quick-growing cells, period.

However, not every patient loses their hair from chemo. It all depends on what drugs are used and what dosages they’re used in. Your doctor can tell you what the odds are that you’ll lose your hair.

Generally, hair starts falling out about two weeks after chemo has started, and it begins growing back about a month after the end of chemo. But don’t expect to get that same head of hair back, at least not right away: it might be a slightly different color or texture at first, but should return to normal within six months.

Unlike chemo, radiation therapy can sometimes cause permanent hair loss in high doses. However, radiation therapy may also result in no hair loss at all. It depends on where the radiation is focused, and the type of radiation you receive.

For women facing hair loss from chemo, a program in the US called Look Good, Feel Better provides a wealth of tips and support and a similar site does this for guys, Look Good, Feel Better for Men.

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