Hair loss is also medically known as alopecia. Anti-cancer treatments can cause hair loss by affecting the cells that help with hair growth. It may occur at any part of the body, including the head, face, underarms and pubic area. The amount and pattern of hair loss differs from person to person depending on the type of treatment received, but this is usually a temporary effect of cancer treatment, and hair grows back most of the time.
Causes of Hair Loss
How it can be treated
Hair loss from some chemotherapy drugs can be potentially prevented using a scalp cooling device, but this is at present not available at NCCS due to costs to patients and reservations on the general effectiveness in most patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Your doctor may advise you on the use of topical medications (e.g. minoxidil) if you experience hair thinning from hormonal or targeted therapy, or if your hair does not fully grow back after other anti-cancer treatments. Your doctor may also refer you to a Dermatologist, who can advise you further on the management of hair loss.
What you can do
Although there is currently no way to completely prevent alopecia from anti-cancer treatment, learning how to manage hair loss before, during and after your anti-cancer treatment allows you to cope better:
When to call your cancer care team
You can contact your healthcare team, or call +65 6436 8417 or +65 6436 8088 to book an appointment to speak to a medical social worker if you feel that your worry about hair loss is affecting your daily life.
If you have any questions regarding the above information, please call the Cancer Helpline at +65 6225 5655 for further details.
The above contents have been approved by the Cancer Education Information Service, National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), for people with cancer and their families and caregivers.
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