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Hair Loss And Breast Cancer: A Guide For Women

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is an appropriate time to focus on issues important to women with breast cancer. Many of our clients at Riviera Hair Replacement are women with breast cancer.

We know that concern about hair loss is one of the first hurdles that many women deal with when they receive a breast cancer diagnosis. Many women speak to their doctors about what to expect when their cancer treatment begins and whether it is likely to cause hair loss. Other women turn to friends or breast cancer survivors to share their feelings about the prospect of losing their hair and get advice on managing hair loss.

There is no mandatory or perfect way to approach hair loss and breast cancer. Here, we offer you a guide to help you navigate the expectation and experience of hair loss from breast cancer treatment.

Will You Lose Your Hair From Breast Cancer Treatment?

This is often the first thing women ask when they receive a cancer diagnosis. Your doctor can tell you. Different treatments cause different side effects, and hair loss is often one of them. If your doctor tells you to expect hair loss, there is additional information you might want to know.

Will you experience permanent hair loss, or will your hair grow back after chemotherapy or radiation treatment ends?

Hair loss from cancer is generally not permanent. Many women find their hair starts to grow back a few weeks after treatment ends. They will often find new hair growth is different from their pre-cancer hair.

Will you be completely bald or experience hair thinning?

Depending on the breast cancer treatment you receive, you may or may not experience complete hair loss. Different chemotherapy drugs and radiation can impact healthy hair follicles in different ways and result in different hair loss patterns. Chemotherapy generally causes more hair loss than radiation.

Will you lose your body hair, pubic hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes?

The answer to this also depends on the individual cancer treatment you receive. For some women, hair falls out only from the scalp. Other cancer patients lose other body hair as well.

Will you have gradual hair thinning, or will your hair fall out all at once?

Another “it depends” answer. Depending on the chemotherapy treatment you receive, your hair may fall out quickly and completely. As stated above, radiation tends to cause hair thinning, while chemotherapy often causes more significant hair loss.

Will your hair begin to fall out right away when you start treatment or after several treatments?

This also depends on what type of cancer treatment you receive. Some chemotherapy causes hair loss just a few weeks after starting treatment. Knowing what to expect can often go a long way toward helping you manage hair loss.

Are there things that can reduce hair loss, such as cooling caps?

Some breast cancer patients try scalp cooling or cooling caps to ward off hair loss caused by chemotherapy. Chemotherapy causes hair loss because it attacks healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Hair follicles fall into this category. Cold caps might reduce the blood flow to the cells surrounding your hair follicles, making them less likely to be targeted and killed by the chemotherapy.

If losing your hair is something that you want to try to minimize, you might consider a scalp cooling system. However, something to consider first is that cooling caps are expensive and might not be covered by your health insurance. Also, some medical practitioners worry that scalp cooling can reduce the effectiveness of breast cancer treatments.

Taking Steps to Handle Hair Loss From Breast Cancer Treatments

Once you have answers to all of your questions, you might have a better handle on what to expect regarding your hair loss. You can consider taking steps to minimize the emotional impact of losing your hair and help you focus on your recovery.

What Can You Do To Ease Your Hair Loss Transition?

If you have long hair, you might consider cutting your hair short before you start treatment and begin to lose hair. Cancer patients often say that the shock or trauma of losing hair when it is short is less than when it is long.

Start collecting colorful scarves, cool hats, and other head coverings that you can wear to conceal hair thinning, keep you warm in cold weather, and make you feel pretty.

Consult with hair replacement specialists to discuss wearing a wig. For example, at Riviera Hair Replacement, many women come to us before their hair loss starts to talk about the pros, cons, and solutions that can help them feel like themselves while on their cancer journey. You can do this at any time during treatment, but scheduling a consultation before your hair loss begins can be beneficial in many ways, including:

It allows hair replacement specialists to see your natural hair color, style, and texture which means they are more likely to match your current look (if that is your goal).

It also allows you to “be ready” when your hair loss occurs. Any cancer diagnosis often conjures up feelings of anxiety, fear, depression. Starting cancer treatment can be daunting and also result in a slew of physical side effects. Securing your hair replacement before starting can eliminate one huge stressor that many women face when they learn they have cancer.

Call Riviera Hair Replacement To Schedule A Free Consultation Before You Begin Breast Cancer Treatments

Riviera Hair Replacement helps women with breast cancer when they are seeking solutions to hair loss from treatments. Our experience radiation and chemotherapy induced alopecia makes us a favorite among cancer patients who want to feel and look their best throughout their cancer journeys.

Call Riviera Hair Replacement today at 516-364-0110 to schedule your free consultation. You will be glad you did.