While at the international conference on hair loss in Los Angeles this month, one of the topics we discussed was the prevalence of permanent hair loss following chemotherapy and radiation treatment for many types of cancer. While most of us are aware of how often hair loss occurs during cancer treatment, I didn’t realize that for up to 30-40% of patients, some degree of hair loss can be permanent. This can be emotionally devastating for some patients, both young and old. Fortunately, survival rates of nearly all cancers are improving, but now we need to be sensitive and respectful of how permanent hair loss can affect men and women as they recover.
One of the newer preventative treatments are scalp cooling devices. A cap with cold water running through it is worn during the infusion of chemotherapy. This prevents the chemotherapy meds from reaching the hair follicle. In some studies, this treatment has reduced hair loss up to 50%.
Long term hormonal blocking therapy used to prevent recurrence in breast cancer has long been known to cause hair loss, with both decreased hair counts and diameter. We would NEVER recommend stopping this life saving therapy, or any other chemotherapy, but utilizing hair loss treatment simultaneously has been shown to decrease or slow down further loss, and in some cases help regrow what has been lost. Treatment can include medication, topical solutions, Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy, and even hair transplants.
If you or someone you know has experienced hair loss due to chemotherapy or radiation therapy, give our office a call to schedule a free consultation to learn about these latest studies and what way we can help.
Posted by Dr. Wendel