why do you lose your hair during chemotherapy
Believe it or not, hair loss (alopecia). Hair loss happens because the chemotherapy affects all cells in the body, not just
the cancer cells. The lining of the mouth, stomach, and the hair follicles are especially sensitive because those cells multiply rapidly just like the cancer cells. The difference is that the normal cells will repair themselves, making these side effects temporary. Hair loss does not occur with all chemotherapy. Whether or not your hair remains as it is, thins or falls out, depends on the drugs and dosages. Hair loss may occur as early as the second or third week after the first cycle of chemotherapy, although it may not happen until after the second cycle of chemotherapy. Hair loss can be sudden or slow. You may lose all of your hair or just some of it. Often it comes out in clumps rather than an even pattern. It is common for hair loss to include hair that grows anywhere including eyelashes, eyebrows, and even pubic hair. of chemotherapy-induced hair loss,. It may take from three to six months after therapy is completed or it may start growing back while you are still receiving chemotherapy. Be prepared for your "new" hair to possibly have a slightly different color, texture, or curl.
Through the years, attempts have been made to reduce hair loss by using tight bands or ice caps. While these techniques may reduce hair loss by reducing blood flow to the scalp and limiting chemotherapy exposure to hair follicles, there is a theoretical concern that this could reduce the effectiveness of treatment in that area. Management of hair loss focuses on your own comfort, or discomfort with baldness and on keeping your head warm if you live in a cool climate, as well as protection from the sun. The following are options to consider, the best option is the one that is most comfortable for you: Short hair. Since hair often does not fall out evenly, some find losing short hair is less distressing. Some people shave their heads once the hair begins to fall out. Wigs - If you are interested in purchasing a wig, the best time to do this is before you lose any hair. This helps the stylist create the best match. Many insurance companies will pay for a wig, so be sure you have it written as a prescription from your doctor (usually written as "cranial prosthesis"). There are wig stylists who specialize in wigs for alopecia (hair loss).
Check your yellow pages or ask at the doctor's office. Caps and Scarves - Some people find that the easiest, and most comfortable options are caps and scarves. These range from those you may already own to custom items made expressly for people who are undergoing chemotherapy. You might check with your local chapter of the American Cancer Society. They sponsor a program called "Look Good, Feel Better. " This program addresses ways to tie scarves and ways to make yourself look and feel better. Note: We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice. Chemocare. com is designed to provide the latest information about chemotherapy to patients and their families, caregivers and friends. For information about the 4th Angel Mentoring Program visit Hair loss occurs because chemotherapy targets all rapidly dividing cells healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Hair follicles, the structures in the skin filled with tiny blood vessels that make hair, are some of the fastest-growing cells in the body.
If you're not in cancer treatment, your hair follicles divide every 23 to 72 hours. But as the chemo does its work against cancer cells, it also destroys hair cells. Within a few weeks of starting chemo, you may lose some or all of your hair. If you are having, your hair loss may be gradual or dramatic: clumps in your hairbrush, handfuls in the tub drain or on your pillow. Whichever way it happens, it's startling and depressing, and you'll need a lot of support during this time. Some chemotherapy drugs affect only the hair on your head. Others cause the loss of eyebrows and eyelashes, pubic hair, and hair on your legs, arms, or underarms. The extent of hair loss depends on which drugs or other treatments are used, and for how long. The all produce different reactions. The timing of your treatments will also affect hair loss. Some types of chemotherapy are given weekly and in small doses, and this minimizes hair loss. Other treatments are scheduled every three to four weeks in higher doses, and may be more likely to cause more hair loss.
Adriamycin (the A in CAF chemo treatment) causes complete hair loss on the head, usually during the first few weeks of treatment. Some women also lose eyelashes and eyebrows. Methotrexate (the M in CMF chemo treatment) thins hair in some people but not others. And it's rare to have complete hair loss from methotrexate. Cytoxan and 5-fluorouracil cause minimal hair loss in most women, but some may lose a great deal. Taxol usually causes complete hair loss, including head, brows, lashes, pubic area, legs, and arms. Other types of breast cancer treatments may also cause hair loss. For example, Radiation only causes hair loss on the particular part of the body treated. If radiation is used to treat the breast, there is no hair loss on your head. But there might be loss of hair around the nipple, for women who have hair in that location. Radiation to the brain, used to treat metastatic cancer in the brain, usually causes complete hair loss on the head. Tamoxifen may cause some thinning of your hair, but not baldness. No matter how forewarned you are and how ready you think you are, it's always a terrible shock when your hair falls out.
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