Cancer Treatment and Hair Loss: The Connection

A general assumption surrounding cancer is that it causes hair loss. However, the reality is that cancer is not solely responsible for the loss of hair on the head. There are several reasons, which we will discuss below.


There is a greater chance of it being related to alopecia. This is a condition that can occur due to chemotherapy, radiation, cell transplants, and other therapy treatments. The main objective behind all of these treatments is to decrease the spread of the cancer cells in the human body. However, there are consequences for these treatments. Fast-growing, healthy cells in your body, such as hair follicles, suffer from damage such as hair loss. Luckily, hair loss is most always temporary in these situations.

It is true that chemo drugs can be responsible for hair loss. However, it is a myth that alopecia will occur in every single cancer patient that does treatment therapy. The main factors that lead to hair loss depend on the different medicines, doses, and treatment frequency.

How much hair an individual loses during their cancer treatment varies. One person taking certain medications could experience slight hair loss, while a separate individual enduring the same treatment could experience severe. It all depends on how the human body reacts to the treatments.

Although this can sound disheartening, you can manage your hair loss several different ways. You will also have a team of doctors and nurses that can help guide you to the right care during the hair loss journey.

Cancer and Hair Loss

There are specific cancer treatments and drugs that are more likely to cause hair loss in men and women. Make sure to discuss everything with your team of doctors, as they will be able to anyou’re your questions for you.


Not all kinds of chemotherapy cause hair loss. There are certain drugs that leave you at a higher risk of experiencing hair loss. They are listed below:

  • Cisplatin
  • Altretamine
  • Docetaxel
  • Carboplatin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Gemcitabine
  • Epirubicin
  • Fluorouracil
  • Ifosfamide and many others.

What to Expect

In the case of chemotherapy, hair fall will likely start two to four weeks after the treatment process begins. This could extend several months after starting treatment as well. Again, it depends on the individual and how your body responds.

It is even possible that several people taking the same cancer drug will experience varying levels of hair loss. As mentioned, the drug and the dose your doctor prescribes has a massive impact on how much hair you lose. Another important reminder is that how you are receiving treatment (orally, topically, etc.) may also have an impact on if you lose your hair and how much of it you may lose.

As mentioned earlier, hair loss due to cancer treatment is almost always temporary, so you can expect new hair growth once your body functions and levels get closer to normal.

Keep in mind that it can be possible for your hair to grow back a different color and with a different texture. Many patients report having hair grow back much thinner than what it was before treatment. This is not uncommon.

How Can You Prevent Hair Loss?

At this time, there has not been a way to completely eliminate hair loss during cancer treatments. This is an ongoing study and hopefully there will be a cure soon.

One option is to use laser caps to treat hair thinning. These laser caps use low level light therapy treatment to stimulate blood flow in the scalp. Increased blood flow brings appropriate oxygen and nutrients to the scalp in order to support a healthy head of hair. With these nutrients and oxygen levels, the hair follicles begin to grow. This amazing technology allows users to complete treatment painlessly and effortlessly.

There are also other options when it comes to topical treatments such as Rogaine and Minoxidil. These can be purchased at your local pharmacy and have been known to improve hair growth on the scalps of men and women.

Although there is no way to completely eliminate the fact that you may lose your hair, there are ways to reduce its severity during your treatment. Below is a list of options you can try:

  • Wash your hair gently and less often.
  • Let your hair air dry versus drying with a towel.
  • Choose a shampoo that is gentle and fragrance-free, if not a baby shampoo.
  • Use a soft brush or a comb when combing through your hair. Be gentle when doing this.
  • Do not use chemical products for styling your hair.
  • Avoid coloring your hair.
  • Use a silk or satin pillowcase when you sleep rather than sleeping on one made of cotton.
  • Do not use curlers, blow driers, and flat irons for your hair.
  • There is always the option of purchasing a wig.
  • Wear a hat or scarf over your head.


Cancer treatment and hair loss typically go hand in hand. However, not everyone experiences hair loss that undergoes cancer treatment therapy. There are several ways in which you can attempt to avoid hair loss. As always, consult with your doctor for the best options.

If you have any questions, please ask below!