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Chemotherapy Hair Loss  

While there is no question that chemotherapy as a treatment for many types and stages of cancer can save lives or at least extend and improve the lives of patients suffering from advanced cases. Chemotherapy involves the use of anti-cancer drugs to help identify, attack and kill cancer cells. The drugs are normally administered either orally or intravenously such that they flow through the bloodstream until they find and attack the cancer cells. The drugs work by identifying cells which exhibit rapid growth rates. Since this is a unique factor of cancer cells, this can be a very effective way to identify and ultimately destroy these cells. The major drawback to this is that other healthy cells also tend to grow very rapidly in comparison to most other cells. So the anti-cancer drugs not only attack cancer cells but can also affect otherwise healthy cells like hair cells. This is a key contributing factor to experiencing hair loss as a result of chemotherapy. It would therefore be useful to discuss some further details as it relates to chemotherapy hair loss.

There are over fifty different types of anti-cancer drugs which are normally used in chemotherapy.  Some of these drugs tend to affect hair loss more than others but for the most part, it should be understood that a patient will experience a certain degree of hair loss. 

The good news is that this is not permanent.  Once the treatment has concluded and the drugs have run their course through the body, the healthy hair cells should regenerate and begin to grow again. 

In general you can expect to begin to experience Chemo Hair Loss about three weeks into your chemotherapy treatment.  The rate of loss can be gradual or severe depending on the dosage and type of medication used.  And the hair loss should continue throughout the remainder of your treatment.

Once treatment has concluded, it will take about two to three weeks for the drugs to completely pass through your system and stop attacking cells.  At that point your hair cells should begin to function again and start to grow hair.  At first the growth will be slow and spread out.  But as time progresses it will increase in both length and density.  The new hair may be of a different color and slightly different texture.  Many patients report that their hair may begin in a grey color but this will eventually turn to their normal color over time (unless they started out grey). 

In order to limit the amount of hair loss and the time required for regrowth, it is very good idea to prepare prior to the commencement of treatment.  Extra care should be taken to keep the hair as healthy as possible.  This includes sticking to a healthy diet and avoiding the use of harsh chemicals like hair colors or processing aids. 

And during and after your chemotherapy treatment a healthy diet should be pursued with the goal of maintaining the best possible health and speedy recovery.  Adherence to a good physical regimen and healthy diet will not only speed up recovery from the treatment but also the return of your hair.