When does hair loss happen?

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Question from Joann: Hi, I received my first treatment of AC on August first. I have very thick, wavy hair. Until yesterday, I was hopeful that I would be an exception to the rule, but today I started to lose about 10 strands of hair at a time. My question is, does the hair loss only occur when your blood cells are being destroyed by the AC? If I am out of my nadir period will my hair loss stop until the next nadir period?
Answers - Mary Gail Mercurio Hair loss occurs because the chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cells and the hair follicles are innocent bystanders.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. The rate of hair loss is independent of your blood count.
Mary Gail Mercurio It is dependent on the amount of chemotherapy.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. Hair loss is so devastating when you start to lose it in clumps, it is really so tough, and every woman hopes that she is going to be THE ONE that will escape this side effect.
Mary Gail Mercurio But on a very positive note, this process is completely reversible, so it's a matter of getting through that period of chemotherapy and the associated hair loss and to make that a more bearable time it's helpful to plan ahead—to be aware of this likely occurrence. That can be accomplished by thinking about wigs in advance, or other camouflaging techniques such as scarves.
Ronda Gates, M.S., R.Ph. One of the things that you can do as you start to see hair loss is to have an active plan rather than letting the disease rule how you manage your hair care. Then if you need it, you have a plan in place so that you are proactive rather than reactive.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called No Hair, New Hair, Skin Care featured Mary Gail Mercurio, M.D., Ronda Gates, M.S., R.Ph., and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions on the physical side effects of breast cancer treatment, and what you can do about them.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in August 2001.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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