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Side EffectsHair Loss

Last update: 11/30/2012

Alopecia | Quick Reference | Resources & Research News

Hair loss (alopecia) is also a common side effect of many chemotherapy agents. Many chemotherapy agents damage or kill rapidly growing cells, which includes normal cells: hair, and blood cells that form in the marrow. Not all chemotherapy drugs, however, cause hair loss, and sometimes the hair loss is minimal. Radiotherapy causes hair loss only in the area being treated. Hair loss after chemotherapy and radiation treatment is almost always temporary.

Will I recover?  Your normal cells will usually recover when chemotherapy is over, and with this recovery the side effects will gradually subside. Many

How long will it take?  This depends on many things, including your age, health status, and the kind of chemotherapy you have received.  

Patient-to-Patient: It took less than two weeks for it be clear mine was ready to come out.  I shaved it so that I could have control over it, instead of it over me as it fell out (like Lance says below).  Many people prefer wigs, but I just used scarves, caps, and hats.  It seems to me that there are so many people *being treated and surviving* cancer nowadays, that I see people with the tell-tale scarves as part of any crowd wherever we go.  It does grow back, so it's only temporary...think of it that way. 
 
The most difficult hair loss for me was of the eyebrows and particularly eyelashes--I had no idea what practical purposes they serve in shading and protecting the eyes.  Many people, however, do not experience the complete hair loss that Lance and I did. 
 
I think--if you can do it--that there can be a certain amount of pride in wearing your scarf or wig, and still being yourself, out there with people, getting your job done, and so on.  Like a hair-badge of courage.  My favorite cap said-- No Hair Day. - Carol

Chemotherapy agents and hair loss

Usually cause
 hair loss

Sometimes cause 
hair loss

Usually don't cause 
hair loss

Adriamycin
Amsacrine
Methotrexate
Daunorubicin
Cytarabine
Carmustine (BCNU)
Etoposide
Bleomycin
Mitroxantrone
Irinotecan (Campto)
Busulphan
Mitomycin C
Cyclophosphamide
5 Fluorouracil
Carboplatin
Epirubicin
Melphalan
Cisplatin
Docetaxel, (Taxotere)
Vincristine
Procarbazine
Paclitaxel, (Taxol)
Vinblastine
6-Mercaptopurine
Ifosphamide
Lomustine(CCNU)
Sreptozotocin
Vindesine
Thiotepa
Fludarabine
Vinorelbine
Gemcitabine
Raltitrexate (Tomudex)
Topotecan
 
Capecitabine
   
Bendamustine
Source: cancernet.co.uk
Hair Loss Quick Reference
Alopecia
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Resources & Research News

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The Heavenly Hats Foundation  heavenlyhats.com

"collects and distributes brand new hats of all kinds to those heroes of all ages who lose their hair due to the treatment of cancer or the many other medical conditions which may cause hair loss. "   
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National Alopecia Areata Foundation
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Caregiver's perspective on hair loss -
it isn't really a vanity issue  Daisy
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Scalp hypothermia to prevent chemotherapy-induced alopecia is effective and safe: a pilot study of a new digitized scalp-cooling system used in 74 patients.

Support Care Cancer. 2003 Jun;11(6):371-7. 2003 Mar 21.
PMID: 12768403
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Misuse of scalp hypothermia.
Cancer Treat Rep. 1981 May-Jun;65(5-6):507-8. PMID: 7237471
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Preventing and Coping with Hair Loss  cancernet.co.uk
 
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professional medical advice or to replace your relationship with a physician.
For all medical concerns,  you should always consult your doctor. 
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