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Do All Breast Cancer Patients Lose Their Hair

Look Good Feel Better Workshops

Do All Chemotherapy Patients Lose Their Hair?

Look Good Feel Better is an organisation offering a free two-hour skincare and make-up workshop to help women with the visible side effects of cancer treatment, including redefining the eye area for women who have lost their eyebrows and/or eyelashes. The workshops are held throughout the UK in hospitals, cancer care centres and the community and cater for women of all skin tones.

Visit for more details and to find your nearest workshop. Alternatively you can call 01372 747500 or email

Many of our Living with Secondary Breast Cancer services include a Look Good Feel Better workshop as one of the monthly sessions. Find out more by calling our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.

About Hair Loss Or Hair Thinning

Hair loss is one of the most well known side effects of cancer treatment. For many people losing their hair can be distressing and devastating.

It can be a constant reminder of your cancer and what youre going through. But for most people, their hair will grow back once treatment has finished.

Cancer drugs can cause:

  • mild thinning of your hair
  • partial hair loss, or loss of patches of hair
  • complete hair loss

Chemotherapy is the type of cancer drug treatment most likely to cause hair loss.

Complete hair loss is very unlikely with any other type of treatment. But some other cancer drugs can cause hair thinning. It is not possible to tell beforehand who will be affected or how badly.

Hair loss also depends on factors such as:

  • the type of drug or combination of drugs you are taking
  • the dose
  • the route
  • how sensitive you are to the drug
  • your drug treatment in the past

Hair Loss And Cancer Treatment

If treatment will cause hair loss, try wearing fun scarves and earrings or a cap, from time to time.

Some types of chemotherapy cause the hair on your head and other parts of your body to fall out. Radiation therapy can also cause hair loss on the part of the body that is being treated. Hair loss is called alopecia. Talk with your health care team to learn if the cancer treatment you will be receiving causes hair loss. Your doctor or nurse will share strategies that have help others, including those listed below.

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Can Cold Caps And Scalp Cooling Prevent Hair Loss During Treatment

Cooling the scalp can sometimes prevent or reduce hair loss from the head for both men and women having chemotherapy. This technique works by reducing the blood flow to the hair follicles, which means that the amount of drugs reaching the hair follicles is also reduced.

The effectiveness of scalp cooling varies depending on the drug and dose used, and from person to person. If you do keep your hair, you may find that its patchy or thinner. Scalp cooling is often less effective on African and Caribbean hair, so increased cooling times may be recommended.

There are two widely available ways of cooling the scalp. One method uses a cold cap, which is a hat filled with a gel that can be chilled. The other system uses a small, refrigerated cooling machine to pump a liquid coolant through the cap. In both cases the cap is worn before, during and after chemotherapy, so scalp cooling can mean youre at the hospital for longer.

You can ask your specialist or chemotherapy nurse if scalp cooling is available and whether it would be suitable for you. The condition of your hair and any previous use of chemicals on it may affect how well scalp cooling works. Your chemotherapy nurse will discuss this with you.

Some doctors have been concerned that scalp cooling may increase the risk of developing secondary cancers in the brain or scalp due to the possibility of constricted blood vessels limiting the amount of chemotherapy reaching the area.

The Stage That Is So Ridiculous Its Hilarious

Wondering about hair loss during chemotherapy or radiation ...

I cant tell you how hilarious it is to pull out fistfuls of hair and let the wind take it away, like it would dandelion fuzz, whilst on a walk with your best friend. Like, it truly made me laugh. Its also super fun to lint roll your head. Or to have your infant daughter playfully pull out chunks of hair while drinking a bottle in your arms. To finally see that you need to shave your head, lest she drown in a sea of your fallen hair, while she crawls around on the living room floor.

Read Also: Where Does Metastatic Breast Cancer Spread To

Why Will I Lose My Hair During Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, attack fast-growing cancer cells. These treatments can also affect normal cells that grow fast, such as hair cells.

Chemotherapy can cause hair loss on your scalp, pubic area, arms, legs, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Radiation therapy to your head often causes hair loss on your scalp. Sometimes, depending on the dose of radiation to your head, your hair may grow back differently from how it looked before, or it may not grow back at all.

Managing Hair Loss From Chemotherapy

If chemotherapy medicines that will cause hair loss are part of your breast cancer treatment plan, there are steps you can take to prepare, possibly lessen hair loss, and protect your hair as it grows back. Learn more about Managing Hair Loss From Chemotherapy, including tips for hair loss on your head, eyebrows, and eyelashes.

Also Check: What Do Breast Cancer Patients Need

Will I Lose My Hair With Breast Cancer Treatment

If youre about to begin breast cancer treatment, you may be wondering about the possibility of losing your hair. Hair loss can be difficult to predict, even among patients who receive the same therapy. For the most accurate information on what to expect in your unique situation, you are encouraged to talk with your treatment team.

In general, if you receive certain chemotherapy medications, you may lose some or all of the hair on your head. Thats because the chemo medications may damage some of your hair follicles as they work to destroy your breast cancer. Most likely, if you lose your hair, it will gradually fall out in clumps as you brush or shampoo it. Depending on the specific medications you receive, you may also temporarily lose your eyebrows and eyelashes, as well as the hair on your arms, legs and pubic area.

“Just remember that most side effects from chemotherapy such as hair loss are just temporary while you undergo treatment, and hair will grow back at its normal rate after you finish treatment.”

Aixa Soyano Muller, MD

Hair Pieces To Wear With Hats And Scarves

Chemo cold caps reduce hair loss for breast cancer patients

Some women like to wear a hair piece under a hat or scarf to get the look of hair without having to wear a full wig. Hair pieces tend to be cooler, more lightweight, easier to take care of, and more affordable than wigs. They are available in a variety of colors and lengths and in straight or curly styles. Here are a few options to consider:

  • A halo hair piece, worn under a hat or scarf, gives the appearance of hair around the back and sides of the head and sometimes includes bangs as well. Unlike a full wig, it is open at the top to keep you cool.
  • A baseball cap with hair permanently attached is an easy option because its ready to wear and doesnt require any styling.
  • Bangs can be attached to your scarf, turban, or hat with peel-and-stick Velcro strips.
  • A hair headband has a ponytail or bangs attached and is worn under a hat or scarf.

This page was developed with contributions from the following experts:

Nicki Serquinia, founder and owner of Hats, Scarves & More

Melissa Hutchison, American Cancer Society patient navigator at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA

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Chemo’s Effect On Cells

Cancer cells tend to divide very quicklyat a much higher rate than most of the cells in the body. They ignore the signals and mechanisms that tell normal cells to stop dividing.

Some normal cells in our bodies also rapidly divide, like hair follicle cells, the mucous membrane cells lining of the digestive tract , and the blood-producing cells in the bone marrow.

Chemotherapy drugs work by targeting rapidly dividing cells. They damage the genetic material inside cells that guide cell division. Chemotherapy drugs cannot tell the difference between these normal, rapidly dividing cells and cancer cells, so the drug affects these cells as well.

The hair follicles have a good blood supply, which unfortunately allows chemotherapy drugs to reach them efficiently. About 65% of people who receive chemotherapy will experience hair loss. The amount of hair loss can depend on which chemotherapy agent is used, as well as the timing, dose, and route of administration. It can also vary from person to person, and it’s hard to predict who will be affected most.

About 90% of your scalp hair is in the active growth phase at any one time. This hair will be affected by chemotherapy agents.

There are five classes of chemotherapy drugs, each of which affects a different part of the cell growth cycle or acts in a different way. Which agent is chosen depends on the type of cancer.

Can Breast Cancer Treatment Cause Permanent Hair Loss

Hair loss caused by chemotherapy is almost always temporary so hair will usually start to grow back once your treatment is over. Some people find that it starts to grow back before they have completed all their chemotherapy.

There is some evidence that chemotherapy may result in prolonged or permanent hair loss, particularly with taxane drugs . Permanent hair loss is described as incomplete regrowth of hair six months or more after completing treatment.

At the moment there is no definite evidence to say how often this happens, which may mean that this possible side effect is not included in written information given to patients undergoing chemotherapy.

As hair loss is common in both people with cancer and in the general population, its often difficult to be sure whether problems with hair regrowth are due to treatment, genetics or other factors such as extreme stress or medical conditions, or a combination of these things.

After radiotherapy, any hair that you lost from the treated area will usually grow back. You may find that the regrowth is patchy and it can take several months to grow back completely. Its also possible that the hair may not grow back at all. This will depend on the dose of radiotherapy and the number of treatments youve had.

Once you have finished taking hormone therapy, your hair should return to how it was before treatment. However, this may take some time and for some may not fully return to the same thickness.

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Coping With Other People’s Reactions To Hair Loss

You may feel that losing your hair means that you will need to tell people about your diagnosis when you would prefer not to, however, its up to you who you tell. Some people tell just their family and close friends, while others are happy to let everyone know.

People will respond to you losing your hair in different ways, and you may find some reactions difficult to understand.

A change in appearance may make you feel less confident about socialising with friends and family. However, withdrawing from your social life may make you feel more isolated or that your diagnosis is preventing you from doing the things you enjoy. Many people find continuing to meet up with others is a useful distraction and helps to keep some normality.

You may feel anxious about other peoples reactions at first, but these feelings should gradually improve over time. It might help to talk to others who have experienced hair loss.

If you have children, whatever their age, you may wonder what to tell them about your breast cancer. Your children may find it upsetting to see you without any hair and it might help if you prepare them for the fact that this may happen. Studies have shown that children are less anxious if they know whats happening, and that it can be less frightening for them to know what is going on even if they dont fully understand. Read our tips about talking to children about breast cancer.

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/ Should I Cut My Hair Short Or Shave It Before Chemotherapy

Why do Cancer patients lose all their Hairs (  ...

Cutting or shaving your hair is not essential but it is often recommended. Some people find it makes the transition from long hair to a bald head less abrupt if they cut their hair short just before chemotherapy. This also has a practical advantage: when your hair starts to fall out, you wont lose big, long chunks of hair but just short hair or stubble. Some people find this less confrontational. Others choose to cut their hair short because it makes them feel in control of the hair loss process themselves instead of being passively subjected to it. A tip: if you choose to shave off your hair, we recommend using an electric trimmer or clipper . Be careful to avoid cutting yourself. If you are not used to using these devices, go to the hairdresser or ask someone with experience.

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Try Hair Regrowth Treatment

Some drugs encourage hair regrowth after chemotherapy, but the results vary. Most hair regrowth drugs aim to treat hair loss resulting from causes other than chemotherapy.

Some research has suggested that minoxidil might speed up hair regrowth or reduce hair loss during chemotherapy.

Doctors may, for example, recommend Rogaine for people who have had tamoxifen therapy for breast cancer. However, it can be messy and expensive. Pharmacies usually offer other forms of minoxidil that are cheaper.

A person should discuss the risks and benefits of hair regrowth treatments with their doctor before using them.

I’m Not Sure But From I Know Read And Researched

96% of all breast cancer patients lose their hair. Some of the lucky ones – have eyebrows and eyelashes during chemo. Regardless of a 12 week cycle or 28 week cycle.

However, our fabulous sisters in Pink .. will weigh in on this subject .. Perhaps the more experienced Diva’s can answer this question for you.

Interesting ….


The most common breast cancer cocktails contain Adriamycin, Cytoxan and/or Taxotere. Adriamycin & Taxotere both cause hair loss – Cytoxan can, but doesn’t necessarily. Losing your hair can be very scary – hopefully sharing in this group can help you through it.


Christmas Girl

Cause hair loss. There are many, many types of chemo drugs – some used for diseases other than cancer, too.

However, amongst those used to combat breast cancer, specifically – hair loss is most likely to occur, unfortunately.

Hope all goes well with your med onc appointment tomorrow. Keep us posted.

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/ When Will My Hair Start To Fall Out

Generally hair loss sets in 2 to 3 weeks after the first course of chemotherapy. Some people lose their hair gradually, while others immediately start to lose hair in large quantities. By their second course of chemotherapy, most people are already wearing a wig, scarf or hat. Tip! Dont wait until your hair starts to fall out to find some chemotherapy headwear. It is a good idea to look for a wig or chemo scarves and hats before starting your chemo. Go to specialised hairdresser for a wig. You can buy chemo scarves, hats and headscarves in specialised shops, such as our Rosette la Vedette online store. Online shopping is easy because you can shop from the comfort of your own home. And during your chemo treatments you can easily order additional chemo hats and scarves in your favourite colours from your easy chair.

Will My Hair Grow Back After Radiotherapy

The Rapunzel Project Helps Chemotherapy Patients Keep Their Hair

Hair regrowth after radiotherapy will depend on lots of things, including the:

  • type and dose of treatment
  • number of treatments given
  • area of your body affected.

Your radiographer can usually tell you before the treatment if your hair is likely to grow back.

If you have been told your hair will grow back, this can start once your skin has healed after treatment. Usually, your hair will start to grow back 3 to 6 months after finishing your treatment. But it may take longer if the treatment dose has been high. The hair that grows back may be thinner, patchy or a different colour.

Sometimes the hair loss is permanent. This can be especially upsetting if it affects the hair on your head. If you have hair loss on your head, you may want to wear a hairpiece, wig or some other type of headwear. It may also be possible to have a hair transplant.

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Managing Ongoing Hair Thinning

Breast cancer treatments such as hormonal therapy, targeted therapy, and chemotherapy can cause some people to have ongoing mild to moderate hair loss. If youre concerned that your hair isnt growing back or is noticeably thinner than in the past, its a good idea to see a dermatologist. If possible, seek out one who specializes in hair loss or an onco-dermatologist who focuses on problems with the hair, skin, and nails that can develop during cancer treatment. The dermatologist will order blood tests to check whether there are other reasons for your hair loss besides the effects of breast cancer treatments. Thyroid problems, nutritional deficiencies, and other factors can play a role in hair loss.

For mild to moderate hair loss, dermatologists often recommend Rogaine , an over-the-counter medication that promotes hair growth. Its safe for people with a history of breast cancer and moderately effective. But check with your oncologist before you start using minoxidil. In most cases, you can use it while you take hormonal therapy or targeted therapy, but not during chemotherapy treatment. Look for products labeled 5% minoxidil foam that you apply to your scalp when your hair and scalp are dry. Its ok for women to use minoxidil products labeled for men. Minoxidil is thought to stimulate hair growth by, among other things, improving blood flow in the scalp and prolonging the growth phase of each hair follicle.


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