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Hair Loss From Treatment And How To Deal With It

Causes of Hair Loss: Chemotherapy and Radiation

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The loss of hair occurs because the drugs affects the hair follicles. Hair follicles go through a cycle starting with a cycle of growth and ending with older hair falling out -- at which point a new cycle of hair growth starts again. Approximately 90% of hair is in the growth phase ("Anagen") at any point in time. Chemotherapy speeds up the process -- thus accelerating hair loss.

Some chemotherapy drugs cause no hair loss or only a very small amount of loss.

Hair loss may begin one to three weeks after the start of your treatment. Hair loss on the scalp can happen gradually or suddenly (in clumps or all at once.) Hair loss can occur on all parts of the body, not just your head. Facial hair such as eyebrows and eyelashes, arm and leg hair, underarm hair, and pubic hair may also be affected.

Typically your hair will start to grow back with the completion of your chemotherapy, although it may take six to 12 months to return completely. You may find that your hair has changed texture. For example, it may now be brittle or hair once curly may now be straight. Dark hair may become lighter.

Changes to your hair due to chemotherapy are usually only temporary.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy only affects the area being treated. For example, if you are receiving radiation treatment to your back, you will not lose hair on your head.

If you are receiving radiation treatment to the head or scalp you may experience permanent hair loss depending on the amount of radiation received and the type of radiation treatment used.

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