- Hair loss
- Hair Extensions
I have Cancer, now my hair is falling out!
This article was published for the first time in March 2012 in the West End Times.
Cet article a été publié pour la première fois en février 2012 dans le West End Times
You are sitting in your doctor's office waiting for the results of your biopsy. The doctor says, sorry but it is malignant, you have cancer! You are experiencing all sorts of emotions, you are shocked, confused, scared and saddened by the reality of your situation. Then the doctor says we will have to start you on chemotherapy and before he says anything else you have already imagined yourself without hair. So you are probably saying to yourself, this topic has been done before and I already know that chemotherapy has many side effects including the famous one which is hair loss. However, I am certain eventhough we all know it, we don't really understand it.
First we need to understand what hair follicles are. Hair follicles are the small structures in the scalp that are filled with blood vessels. This is where the hair is created and where hair growth starts. Without hair follicles, our hair cannot exist. So how does chemotherapy stop hair growth and cause hair to fall out? Chemotherapy's purpose is to damage cancer cells, which multiply at faster rates then most of our body's other cells. However, follicle cells, which are the ones that make our hair, multiply fast and are quickly damaged by certain types of chemotherapy. So if the cells are damaged in the follicles, then the hair itself cannot grow and has no anchor to the scalp.
So how does the hair fall out? Actually there are no fixed scenarios, every person loses their hair differently. I personnally have seen many different people have very different reactions. I have seen hair come out slowly and some come out in clumps. It can start falling out a week after the first dose of chemotherapy, like it can fall out after many weeks. I have seen some who have lost their hair after finishing their chemotherapy treatments completely. It all depends on how your body reacts to the drugs and the type of drugs you are taking. The dosages given are also a factor on how your hair will react to the chemotherapy. For example if you are given smaller doses more often, this can sometimes take more time for your hair to fall out then if you are taking larger doses less frequently. This decision is taken by the medical professional.
So now you must be wondering, which chemotherapy causes hair loss. In general, all the drugs can cause hair loss. Some are known to cause thinning such as the CMF treatment. CAF usually causes complete hair loss as well as Taxol which causes a more universal hair loss. There are pill forms of chemotherapy such as Tamoxifen, which can cause some thinning, especially with prolonged usage. Many wonder if radiotherapy (usually more local) causes hair loss. Well it actually depends on where the radiotherapy is needed on the body. If it is used on the head for a brain cancer then all the hair will fall out as well. Other parts of the body will cause a local loss of hair but not on the head. The good news is that hair usually grows back after the treatments have stopped and our body had time to heal. It can sometimes grow back fast, sometimes it can take a long time. Many times the hair can change in texture, color and thickness. You can see a woman with black straight hair grow back curly grey hair!
Now that we discussed the technical part of hair loss during chemotherapy lets discuss the emotional part of cancer induced hair loss. As mentioned above, you are feeling so many different emotions but many say that the loss of hair was the hardest part of their treatment. Why would someone feel this way about hair? Well think about it this way, to most of us our hair is our image. Losing ones hair, is losing a part of our body. It may not physically hurt to have our hair fall out but it can definately cause emotional distress.
What are the options? Many people will opt to get a headcovering such as a scarf, hat or turban, others not being able to see themselves without a full head of hair will opt for a wig. Being happy with your self image during and after hair loss is important for the healing process. Being stressed out about how you look, does not help. Just to let you in on a little secret, it is important to massage your scalp clockwise, this aids in keeping the follicles opened and stimulated during and after your treatments.
If you need advice or want to discuss your situation when it comes to your hair loss do not hesitate to contact us by email at email@example.com or call us at 514-907-3322.
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