Radiation therapy can cause hair to thin or become lost in the area being treated. For example, radiation to the head can cause you to lose some or all of your head hair (including your eyebrows and eyelashes), but if you get treatment on your hip, you won't lose the hair on your head. Some types of chemotherapy cause hair to fall out on the head and other parts of the body. Radiation therapy can also cause hair loss on the part of the body being treated.
Talk to your healthcare team to find out if the cancer treatment you will receive causes hair loss. The doctor or nurse will share strategies that help others, including those listed below. Radiation affects cancer cells and healthy cells. This includes cells that make hair grow.
This can cause hair loss (alopecia). There is nothing you can do to prevent hair loss when you receive radiation therapy. There are ways to control hair loss. In radiation, only hair that is in the radiation zone will be affected by hair loss.
Only if radiation is applied to the head will the hair on the head be lost. Radiation applied to other parts of the body will not cause hair on your head to fall out. Very rarely, with radiation, there may be an area where the hair is permanently thinner. Radiation therapy will only cause hair loss on the part of the body being treated.
Hair loss can occur where the radiation beam leaves the body (for example, at the back of the neck), as well as where it enters the body. Ask your cancer specialist or radiologist to show you exactly where your hair can fall out. Hair loss is a common side effect of cancer treatment. Hair loss can occur as a side effect of chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, or a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant.
These cancer treatments can damage cells that help hair growth. It can affect hair all over the body, including the head, face, arms, legs, armpits, and pubic area. The medical term for hair loss is alopecia. Most people find that their hair begins to fall out in the area where they receive radiation therapy, about 2 to 3 weeks after the first radiation therapy session.
Many people with cancer lose their hair due to chemotherapy, immunotherapy, endocrine therapy, or radiation to the head. Head and neck cancer is a general term that encompasses many different types of cancer in the head or neck area. The best way to find out if you are likely to experience hair loss due to cancer treatment is to talk to your cancer care team.