It is noted that some of the chemotherapy drugs are used to treat breast cancer as well can cause hair to turn thin out or fall out as a whole on the head. Some chemotherapy drugs can also cause hair loss on other parts of the body, such as the eyebrows and eyelashes, pubic hair, legs, arms, or underarms.
Hair loss and its extent depend on a variety of factors. such as the combination, and dose of chemotherapy drugs you take on routine a basis. Also, other medical conditions normally involve thyroid disease, nutritional status, and stress. The timing of chemotherapy treatments also affects hair loss. Some types of chemotherapy are given weekly and in small doses, which can minimize hair loss. Other types of chemotherapy are scheduled every 3 or 4 weeks at higher doses and may be more likely to cause more hair loss.
Talk to your doctors before starting chemotherapy so you know what to expect in your particular case. If you learn that you will be receiving chemotherapy drugs that may cause hair loss, you may want to consider using a scalp cooling system or manual cold caps during your infusion sessions to limit hair loss.
Some of the chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer that may cause hair loss are:
- Taxane chemotherapy drugs, including Taxol (chemical name: paclitaxel), Taxotere (chemical name: docetaxel), and Abraxane (chemical name: albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel).
- Anthracycline chemotherapy drugs, including Adriamycin (chemical name: doxorubicin), Doxil (chemical name: liposomal doxorubicin), and Ellence (chemical name: epirubicin).
- Cytoxan (chemical name: cyclophosphamide)
Why does chemotherapy cause hair loss?
The reason chemotherapy can be a factor to make the hair loss, it targets all rapidly dividing cells that include both healthy and cancer cells. The structures of hair follicles in the skin that helps hair to grow even include some of the fastest-growing cells in the human body. If you are not being treated for cancer, the cells in your hair follicles divide every 23 to 72 hours. But when chemotherapy works on cancer cells, it also damages hair follicle cells. A few weeks after starting some chemotherapy drugs, you may lose some or all of your hair. This hair loss can happen gradually or quite quickly.
When does hair grow back after chemotherapy?
The time it takes for the hair to grow back after chemotherapy (and other body hair, such as pubic hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows, if you’ve lost them too) varies greatly from person to person. Here is a typical timeline for hair regrowth on the head:
- 3 to 4 weeks after chemotherapy ends: soft fuzz
- 1 month to 6 weeks later: real hair starts to grow
- About 1 cm of hair grows after 2 to 3 months.
- 3 to 6 months later: about 2 to 3 inches of hair
- 12 months later: 10 to 15 cm of hair
The hair on your head may have a different color, texture, or volume as it grows back. If you dyed or chemically treated your hair before starting chemotherapy, you may be surprised to see what your natural hair looks like when it grows back.
In many cases, the hair will eventually return to its original shape after the chemotherapy wears off the hair follicle. But for some people, hair growth is incomplete.
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