Who Experiences Hair Loss
Not every person will lose his or her hair during cancer care. In fact, two patients taking the same medication may experience different hair-loss side effects. One patient may lose hair, while another doesnt. If alopecia does occur, the extent of hair loss varies widely depending on the type, dosage, frequency and method of treatment, as well as other individual factors.
In some cases, the hair may fall out, but become thin, dull and dry. When hair loss occurs, hair may fall out gradually, quickly, in clumps or entirely. The scalp may also feel tender or itchy beforehand.
Most hair loss is temporary, and hair will grow back after cancer treatment ends. Hair generally grows back within three months after chemotherapy ends and three to six months after radiation ends. Sometimes hair re-growth begins even before therapy is complete. Its common for hair to grow back a slightly different color and texture at first.
Baldness drug treatments, such as minoxidil, are not proven to be consistently effective to reduce or prevent hair loss caused by cancer treatment. In some cases, cooling caps, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for some patients, may help to protect hair cells from chemotherapy drugs. Cooling caps are designed to work by constricting cells, making it more difficult for the drugs to penetrate, and by reducing cellular activity in the hair follicles, making them a less likely target for chemotherapy drugs.
Things To Know About Chemotherapy
We spoke with , to learn more. Heres what she had to say.
What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is a group of medications that can shrink or destroy cancer cells.
Chemotherapy is used in a variety of ways. It may be given to rid the body of cancer, to shrink cancer so that surgery can be performed, or to control the disease and prolong someones life as long as possible.
How does chemotherapy work?
There are multiple types of chemotherapy, and each kind works a bit differently. In general, chemotherapy attacks rapidly dividing cells, such as cancer cells. Chemotherapy alters a cancer cells ability to grow or replicate itself. It can cause the cancer cell to die by not functioning properly or stop it from spreading by interfering with its ability to reproduce.
How are chemotherapy drugs usually given?
Most chemotherapy drugs are given through an IV, but some are injected into muscle, under the skin or directly into the spinal fluid. Other chemotherapy drugs can be swallowed in pill form.
Does chemotherapy hurt?
What are the most common side effects of chemotherapy?
Am I going to lose my hair?
Those Most And Least Likely Drugs To Have This Side Effect Of Cancer Treatment
Doru Paul, MD, is triple board-certified in medical oncology, hematology, and internal medicine. He is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and attending physician in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.
To many, hair loss is one of the more dreaded side effects of chemotherapy for cancer. An estimated 65% of patients undergoing classic chemotherapy experience what doctors call alopecia. But while some chemotherapy medications almost always result in such hair loss, others typically cause minimal hair loss.
Other factors related to chemo can affect hair loss as well, such as the dose of the drug given. Of course, effectively treating your cancer is the top priority. But knowing about this potential in advance can help you prepare for it. Fortunately, there are options available to help people cope with this symptom.
You May Like: Is Melatonin Effective For Sleep
Side Effects Of Tamoxifen And Toremifene
The most common side effects of tamoxifen and toremifene are:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness or discharge
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
When tamoxifen treatment starts, a small number of women with cancer that has spread to the bones might have a tumor flare which can cause bone pain. This usually decreases quickly, but in some rare cases a woman may also develop a high calcium level in the blood that is hard to control. If this happens, the treatment may need to be stopped for a time.
Rare, but more serious side effects are also possible:
How Hormone Therapy Is Given
Hormone therapy may be given in many ways. Some common ways include:
- Oral. Hormone therapy comes in pills that you swallow.
- Injection. The hormone therapy is given by a shot in a muscle in your arm, thigh, or hip, or right under the skin in the fatty part of your arm, leg, or belly.
- Surgery. You may have surgery to remove organs that produce hormones. In women, the ovaries are removed. In men, the testicles are removed.
Read Also: Low Hormone Birth Control Brands
What Side Effects Occur With Radiation Therapy To The Pelvis
If you are having radiation therapy to any part of the pelvis , you might have one or more of the digestive problems already described. You also may have some irritation to your bladder. This can cause discomfort or frequent urination. Drinking fluids can help relieve some of your discomfort. Your doctor can prescribe medication to deal with these problems.
There are also certain side effects that occur only in the reproductive organs. The effects of radiation therapy on sexual and reproductive functions depend on which organs are treated. Some of the more common side effects for both men and women do not last long after treatment. Others may be long-term or permanent. Before your treatment begins, ask your doctor about possible side effects and how long they might last.
Recommended Reading: Malignant Breast Cancer Survival Rate
Radiation Therapy Timing And Breast Reconstruction
The timing of radiation treatment in your overall breast cancer treatment plan depends on your individual situation and the characteristics of the breast cancer.
In many cases, radiation therapy is given after surgery. If chemotherapy is planned after surgery, radiation usually follows chemotherapy.
If youre having mastectomy and have decided to have breast reconstruction, its important to know that radiation can cause a reconstructed breast to lose volume and change color, texture, and appearance.
In particular, radiation therapy is known to cause complications with implant reconstruction. Research also suggests that a reconstructed breast may interfere with radiation therapy reaching the area affected by cancer, though this can vary on a case-by-case basis.
For these reasons, some surgeons advise waiting until after radiation and other treatments, such as chemotherapy, are completed before breast reconstruction surgery is done.
Other surgeons may recommend a more staged approach, which places a tissue expander after mastectomy to preserve the shape of the breast during radiation treatments. Once radiation is completed and the tissues have recovered, the expander that was used to maintain the shape of the breast is removed and replaced with tissue from another part of the body or a breast implant.
Also Check: What Happens When You Overdose On Melatonin
Radiation Therapy Is A One Of The Best Options For Treatment Of Breast Cancer For Multiple Reasons:
- Its just as good if not better than traditional mastectomy treatment at eliminating cancer and reducing recurrence, but
- Its much faster and incredibly more convenient when compared to several surgeries
- its completely safe as the radiation is highly targeted, no other organs or tissue is ever at risk
- The cosmetic results are tremendous, you dont need new breasts or reconstruction surgery
- And when detected early has a 95% success rate
At the Innovative Cancer Institute there is no one-treatment-fits all approach to patient care, especially when it comes to Breast Cancer, the most common cancer diagnosed in the US.
Dr. Beatriz Amendola along with our radiation oncology staff will partnerwith you throughout your entire course of treatment and provide the best individualized cancer therapy using the latest treatment techniques. We work directly with your referring doctors and jointly guide you throughout your treatment course.
How I Dealt With Permanent Hair Loss And Other Side Effects
When I first lost my hair due to breast cancer treatment, I often heard people say, Dont worry. Its only hair. The implication was that it would grow back eventually. But after a while, I began to notice that it was always the people with a full head of hair who said it. And I am one of the very small percentage of women whose hair didnt grow back after chemotherapy. So, I am still bald to this day.
It doesnt feel like just hair when youre the only one who doesnt have any especially when youre a woman, and you realize that yours is probably never going to grow back. But Im OK with being bald now, three years after my breast cancer diagnosis. Because I am cancer-free, too, and that matters far more to me than having hair.
Most unexpected treatment side effect: permanent hair loss
At first, I couldnt believe I had to give up both my right breast and my hair to be free of cancer. Because here I was, thinking at least I was going to get my hair back, and it turns out the regrowth Id experienced after treatment was only due to the steroids Id been taking. It was totally temporary.
I sat in my dermatologists office and cried when she told me.
It turns out Id developed alopecia areata, a condition that makes hair fall out in patches. It can be caused by chemotherapy, but its usually reversible. Ive tried a few things since then to get my hair to grow back, but nothings really worked. So, Ive accepted the fact that Im probably always going to be bald.
Also Check: How Can I Check My Estrogen Levels
Exercise Muscle Mass And Weight Gain
Changing your diet and being more physically active may help you to maintain your normal weight.
Physical activity can help to maintain muscle strength, but it needs to be a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise.
Aerobic exercise is any exercise that makes your heart and lungs work faster to provide more oxygen to the muscles for example walking or gardening.
Resistance training includes weight training and swimming. You have to use your muscles to push against the weights or water, which helps to strengthen them.
Physical activity also helps to control your weight. You dont have to go to the gym, you can build it into your life. For example, you could get off the bus the stop before you need to, do some gardening or join a walking group. Some hospitals organise exercise sections for cancer patients. Ask your specialist nurse if this is available.
You should aim to be physically active for 30 minutes 5 days a week. Your doctor may check your cholesterol and heart health before you start an exercise plan. This is important if you have conditions such as diabetes or you are overweight.
Hormone treatment may lower your bone density, increasing the risk of fractures. Talk to your doctor if this could be a problem for you.
Eating a balanced healthy diet can help you to maintain a healthy weight. It can also help you lose or put it on if you need to.
This page is due for review. We will update this as soon as possible.
The Latest In Breast Cancer Treatments Are Available In Portland And Vancouver
Understanding the molecular makeup of each patients breast cancer allows the oncologist to select the most appropriate and proven treatments available today. At Compass Oncology, our comprehensive treatment team includes breast cancer specialists, breast surgeons, specialists in genetics, pathologists, and diagnostic imaging.
Compass Oncologys care team focuses on helping each patient through their individual cancer journey with treatments and support throughout. If you or a loved one in the Portland, Oregon, or Vancouver, Washington area have been diagnosed with breast cancer, schedule a consultation today to learn if targeted or hormone therapies can help you.
Recommended Reading: What Does Testosterone Supplements Do For You
Possible Side Effects Of Hormone Therapy
Some side effects are common to all methods of hormone therapy and are due to the reduced levels of oestrogen.
- Mood changes.
Tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors also produce some different side effects. You may experience some of the side effects listed, but are unlikely to experience them all.
For most people who are recommended to take hormone therapy for breast cancer, the risks of treatment are outweighed by the benefits.
Here is a list of possible side effects that might be experienced on tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors:
Hormonal Therapy And Hair Loss
Hormonal therapy treatments can cause mild to moderate hair loss or thinning because they reduce or block estrogen, which helps hair to grow. Hormonal therapy includes:
Hair loss or thinning from hormonal therapy is not as significant as it can be with chemotherapy. With most hormonal therapy medicines, the impact on your hair will continue as long as you are taking the . Hormonal therapy combined with the of a breast cancer can affect the degree of hair thinning or loss. Not getting enough nutrients, as well as family history and to hair thinning can also have an impact.
There are medicines that can help treat hair thinning and loss caused by hormonal therapy and other treatments. Ask your doctor if there are safe options for you. You can also ask about whether your cancer center has a dietician on staff to make sure youre getting the nutrients that support hair growth.
Recommended Reading: Why Do I Have Hormonal Imbalance
Hormone Therapy After Surgery For Breast Cancer
After surgery, hormone therapy can be given to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. Taking an AI, either alone or after tamoxifen, has been shown to work better than taking just tamoxifen for 5 years.
These hormone therapy schedules are known to be helpful for women who are post-menopausal when diagnosed:
- Tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years, followed by an AI for 2 to 3 years
- Tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years, followed by an AI for 5 years
- Tamoxifen for 4Â½ to 6 years, followed by an AI for 5 years
- Tamoxifen for 5 to 10 years
- An AI for 5 to 10 years
- An AI for 2 to 3 years, followed by tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years
- For women who are unable to take an AI, tamoxifen for 5 to 10 years is an option
For most post-menopausal women whose cancers are hormone receptor-positive, most doctors recommend taking an AI at some point during adjuvant therapy. Standard treatment is to take these drugs for about 5 years, or to take in sequence with tamoxifen for 5 to 10 years. For women at a higher risk of recurrence, hormone treatment for longer than 5 years may be recommended. Tamoxifen is an option for some women who cannot take an AI. Taking tamoxifen for 10 years is considered more effective than taking it for 5 years, but you and your doctor will decide the best schedule of treatment for you.
These therapy schedules are known to be helpful forwomen who are pre-menopausal when diagnosedï»¿:
Safe And Excellent Hormone Therapy At Revitalize You Md
Hormone replacement therapy can help postmenopausal women and men to avoid risks of cancer and maintain good health rest of their lives. Before proceeding to the treatment, find a reputable health clinic that will support you in getting on board with the therapy.
At Revitalize You MD, we ensure that each client obtains the excellent hormone therapy experience possible, tailored to their specific needs. We are a team of qualified medical professionals on staff, dedicated to offering goods and services that will benefit clients in achieving overall wellness.
Schedule a free consultation now to know about our HRT treatments and other special offers.
When Will I Begin To Lose My Hair
You may start to see your hair thin or fall out 1 to 4 weeks after your first chemotherapy treatment and 4 weeks after you receive radiation therapy.
The amount of hair that falls out or thins depends on the type, dose, and timing of your treatments. The speed at which it falls out also varies from person to person. You may first notice hair on your pillow in the morning or see it when you shower or brush your hair.
Some people will experience hair thinning rather than hair loss. Hair thinning is when your hair feels and looks thinner in texture. Talk with your healthcare team about what to expect after your chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Recommended Reading: What Is Stage 3a Breast Cancer
Endocrine Therapy Induced Hair Loss
Ahead of her follow up appointment, I came across a 2016 article by Karatas, Sahin, Sever, and Altundag addressing the topic of hair loss in the face of hormone therapy in breast cancer patients, which I thought would be helpful information to share.
This article points out that those with breast cancer placed on endocrine therapy have a 25% chance of developing hair loss. These hormone treatments involve aromatase inhibitors and Tamoxifen treatment, which is also used in the adjuvant and/or metastatic setting of patients with Estrogen Receptor + and/or Progesterone Receptor+ invasive or noninvasive breast cancer.
Also Check: How To Increase Estrogen Pcos
Menopausal Hormone Therapy And Cancer Risk
For decades, women have used hormone therapy to ease symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and sweating. This is called menopausal hormone therapy, and you may see it abbreviated as HT or MHT. You may also hear it described as hormone replacement therapy , postmenopausal hormone therapy , orpostmenopausal hormones .
In the past, many doctors and their patients believed that MHT didnt just help with hot flashes and other symptoms it had important health benefits. But well-conducted studies have led many doctors to conclude that the risks of MHT often outweigh the benefits.
This information covers only how MHT can affect a womans risk of getting certain cancers. It does not cover other possible risks of MHT such as heart disease or stroke.
You can use this information when you talk to your doctor about whether MHT is right for you.