Why Do People With Cancer Shave Their Head

Hair Loss During Cancer Treatment

Hair loss is a common side effect of cancer treatment, and it can be a difficult experience for many people. There are many reasons why cancer treatment can cause hair loss, and the severity of the hair loss can vary depending on the type of treatment and the individual’s response to the treatment.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a common cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. These drugs can also damage other rapidly dividing cells in the body, including hair follicles. As a result, chemotherapy can cause hair loss on the scalp, as well as on other parts of the body, such as the eyebrows, eyelashes, and armpits.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is another common cancer treatment that uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. These rays can also damage hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. The area of hair loss depends on the location of the radiation therapy. For example, radiation therapy to the brain can cause hair loss on the scalp, while radiation therapy to the chest can cause hair loss on the chest and underarms.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to target specific molecules or proteins that are involved in the growth and survival of cancer cells. Some targeted therapies can cause hair loss as a side effect. For example, a targeted therapy drug called imatinib (Gleevec) can cause hair loss in some patients.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Some immunotherapy drugs can cause hair loss as a side effect. For example, an immunotherapy drug called pembrolizumab (Keytruda) can cause hair loss in some patients.

Hormonal Therapy

Hormonal therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses hormones to block the growth of cancer cells. Some hormonal therapies can cause hair loss as a side effect. For example, a hormonal therapy drug called tamoxifen (Nolvadex) can cause hair loss in some patients.

Coping with Hair Loss

Hair loss can be a challenging experience for many people with cancer. There are a number of ways to cope with hair loss during cancer treatment, including:

  • Talking to your doctor or nurse about your concerns about hair loss.
  • Trying different hairstyles or wigs to find one that you feel comfortable with.
  • Wearing a hat or scarf to cover your head.
  • Using makeup or other products to camouflage hair loss.
  • Talking to a therapist or counselor about your emotional concerns about hair loss.

Remember, hair loss is a temporary side effect of cancer treatment and your hair will grow back after treatment is completed.