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Hair loss occurs as a result of chemotherapy or radiation treatment for your cancer. The medical name for your hair loss is alopecia (al-o-pee-sha). This will help you to understand your hair loss and deal with this distressing side effect.
Chemotherapy and radiation kill fast-growing cancer cells. However, these treatments also affect normal cells that are fast growing, such as hair.
No. Many, but not all, chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss. Radiation affects only the area being treated.
You may, depending on the chemotherapy drug that is used. Most of the time, patients only lose the hair on the head.
Less often, the treatment can cause some loss of hair on eyebrows, eyelashes, chest, underarms, groin, and legs. Hair loss usually begins within two weeks of the start of therapy. It may take place slowly, over a period of days to weeks.
Yes. Hair regrowth often begins three to four weeks after treatment is completed. Some patients notice regrowth during treatment. It may even be a different color or texture. Grey hair may grow back as your original hair color. Straight or thin hair may return as curly, thick hair. It will be soft, new hair, unexposed to years of sunlight, shampoos and permanent dyes.
Ask questions. Shop. Many insurances cover wig costs. For this, you need a doctor’s prescription. The prescription must clearly state hair prosthesis secondary to alopecia.
Dana-Farber's Friends' Place offers wig-fitting services. The friendly, compassionate staff can help with your questions about hair loss and hair alternatives during cancer treatment.
Friends’ Place has a convenient online shopping option for people undergoing treatment.
Watch WCVB TV reporter Kelley Tuthill, a breast cancer survivor treated at Dana-Farber, demonstrate three different ways to tie a headscarf.