Prevention and Treatment
Most chemotherapy drugs adversely affect the rapidly dividing hair cells, triggering the termination of the hair growth cycle and causing the death of the living end of the hair shaft. This causes the hair to fall out about 3 months after the first chemo treatment. Fortunately, the stem cells that control hair growth are rarely affected significantly and recover spontaneously after a short while. In some follicles the stem cells are completely wiped out by chemo, causing the remaining cells that make up the follicle to die. These dead follicles cannot be restored and are lost forever. To some extent, this happens in everyone undergoing chemo that causes hair loss but in most women, it is not enough to make a significant difference.
There are differences between chemo drugs with some having more toxic hair side effects than others. This is something to discuss with your oncologist who is charged with weighing all the benefits and harms of therapy for you and recommending a treatment that has the best odds of curing you with the lowest risk. Remember curing your cancer is the most important consideration and our advice to you is to keep that first and foremost in your mind. Saving your hair is important but is a secondary concern only.
To prevent or retard hair loss due to chemotherapy we recommend using scalp cooling during the IV administration of chemotherapy. Scalp cooling is a service offered by some oncologists at an additional fee. Not every oncologist recommends scalp cooling and this is an option to discuss specifically with your doctor.
This compounded prescription pharmaceutical protects the hair follicles damaged by the chemotherapy drugs and helps them heal and return to normal cycling behavior. It reduces inflammation around the hair shaft that interferes with the growth of healthy hair. It provides a safe environment for the hair follicle to develop normally and naturally allowing it to flourish once more.