Hair Restoration Blog

What Do You Need to Know About Breast Cancer and Hair Loss?
October 08 2020

What Do You Need to Know About Breast Cancer and Hair Loss?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This much too common disease affects 1 in 8 women and 1 in 1,000 men during their lifetime. One of the most well-known side effects of breast cancer treatment is hair loss. This is your guide to why breast cancer treatment causes hair loss and how our stylists at New Look Institute can help restore your full head of hair.

How Does Breast Cancer Treatment Cause Hair Loss?

There are a variety of methods used to treat breast cancer. The treatment plan chosen is based on each person's unique situation. Chemotherapy is the most widely recognized form of treatment. It is also known for causing hair loss. Since cancer cells grow very quickly, chemotherapy drugs are designed to target cells that divide rapidly. This means that chemotherapy not only damages cancer cells but healthy fast-growing cells as well. This includes hair follicles. It is important to note that not all chemotherapy drugs cause complete hair loss. Some do not cause any hair loss at all, while others cause mild thinning.

Whether you experience complete hair loss, thinning, or nothing at all depends on the type of chemotherapy drugs in your treatment plan and the dosage. Smaller doses and those taken orally are less likely to result in hair loss.

Chemotherapy is not the only breast cancer treatment option. Here's how other medications affect hair loss:

  • Targeted therapy - In most cases, targeted therapy treatment does not result in hair loss. However, if it is combined with another treatment method, the risk of hair loss increases.
  • Radiotherapy - This treatment method typically only causes hair loss in the specific area being treated.
  • Endocrine therapy - Although endocrine therapy typically does not result in total hair loss, it can cause thinning of the hair that can continue for the duration of the treatment process.

Is Hair Loss Avoidable During Breast Cancer Treatment?

While there is no sure-fire way to prevent hair loss during treatment, cooling the scalp has been shown to reduce hair loss. Results vary from person to person and are dependent on the drugs and dosage in your treatment plan.

This method works by cooling the scalp, which in turn reduces blood flow to the hair follicles and thereby reduces the amount of drugs that reach and have an effect on the follicles. The cooling method should be applied before, during, and after each treatment session. There are two cooling methods:

  1. Cold cap - This method is a hat filled with a gel that can be frozen and then placed on the head.
  2. Liquid coolant - A small pump is used to push a liquid coolant through a hat for the duration of the cooling session.

Caring For Your Hair During Breast Cancer Treatment

These tips will help in reducing hair loss as much as possible:

  • Pat your hair instead of rubbing
  • Avoid washing hair for a couple of days following treatment
  • Avoid tight hairstyles, extreme heat, or chemicals
  • When washing your hair, use only mild shampoos and conditioners
  • Avoid using hot water to wash your hair

Enjoy a Full Head of Hair Now!

In most cases, hair loss from breast cancer treatment is temporary. However, it can months after treatment has ended for your natural hair to fully grow back. With the expertise of our hairstylists, New Look Institute can help you enjoy a full head of hair now. We have a full line of hair restoration solutions including custom-wigs, extensions, toppers, thickening/regrowth topical products, and so much more. As the most trusted hair restoration studio in San Jose, your stylist at New Look Institute will conduct a thorough hair and scalp analysis and present you with viable options for your situation. Schedule your free hair loss analysis today!