Why Does Chemotherapy for Cancer Cause Hair Loss

Why Does Chemotherapy for Cancer Cause Hair Loss?

Various cancer treatment methods are still being developed until now. Chemotherapy is a therapeutic method that aims to kill and inhibit the development of cancer.

As is known, some people who undergo chemotherapy often experience hair loss. Why did this happen? To find out the answer, read this article to the end!

1. Chemotherapy

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that chemotherapy, also known as chemo, is one of the treatments to kill cancer cells using drugs. Chemotherapy works by using chemicals to stop or slow the growth of cancer. Please note that cancer cells are normal body cells but grow and divide rapidly beyond the growth of healthy cells.

In some people, chemotherapy is used as the only treatment. However, some use chemotherapy in combination with other cancer treatments.

2. Chemotherapy side effects

Quoting from the same source, people undergoing chemotherapy often experience hair loss. This condition is a result of the side effects of the drugs used.

Some types of chemotherapy can cause hair loss. Not only chemotherapy but radiation therapy can also cause hair loss in the radiation area.

3. Why does chemotherapy cause hair loss?

The Verywell Health page explains that cancer cells grow and divide more quickly than healthy body cells. Some normal and healthy cells also can divide rapidly. For example, hair follicle cells, digestive tract mucosal cells, to cells that produce blood cells in the bone marrow.

Chemotherapy drugs kill or slow the growth of rapidly dividing cells, including the healthy cells mentioned earlier. Chemotherapy drugs can not distinguish between normal, actively dividing, and cancer cells. As a result, chemotherapy kills cancer cells and kills or slows down normal cells that are actively dividing, such as hair follicles.

Thus, hair follicle cells are also affected by chemotherapy treatment, resulting in hair loss in most, but not all, of those undergoing chemotherapy, as reported by Medical News Today. Hair loss can vary depending on various factors such as the type of medication, duration of treatment, and others.

4. Can hair grow back after chemotherapy?

The National Cancer Institute has found that the side effects of chemotherapy will improve after completing chemotherapy. Hair can generally grow back about 2-3 months after chemotherapy is complete.

Sometimes, the new hair that grows can become even more frizzy. In fact, about 60 percent of patients report a change in hair color with new hair, Medical News Today reports. Over time, hair will grow normally as before.

5. Minimize the effects of hair loss

The presence of hair loss is a traumatic thing for many patients undergoing chemotherapy because hair is an important thing for them. There are also those who refuse to undergo chemotherapy because of the risk of experiencing hair loss.

To minimize the effects of chemotherapy on the hair follicles, there is a method of cooling the scalp using an ice pack that has been introduced since the 1970s. As reported by Medical News Today, some studies report a success rate of this method up to 50 percent.

Hair loss is one of the side effects of chemotherapy treatment. Chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells and healthy cells that are actively dividing, such as hair follicle cells. Hair that has fallen out can grow back to normal after chemotherapy treatment is complete.

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