Does radiation cause hair loss?


Question from Gwen: Does radiation cause hair loss as chemo does?
Answers - Lydia Komarnicky, M.D. Radiation is very site-specific so that the symptoms and side effects are related to where you aim the beam. If someone is having their head treated by radiation, they will lose their hair. However, if they are having their breast radiated, the hair on their head will not fall out. They may lose a little bit of the hair underneath the arm, however, but that's it.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. If you have hair around your nipple and areola, this hair may come out and may or may not regrow.
Lydia Komarnicky, M.D. It will not cause you to lose your eyebrows, eyelashes, or hair on your head.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. Most forms of breast radiation do not make you radioactive. It's only when the radiation sources are placed during brachytherapy that there is radioactivity within the breast. No one can catch radiation from you.

It's important to let people close to you know this so they do not avoid you during your radiation therapy. I had a patient whose husband avoided touching her breast during their sexual activity because he was afraid that he would get radiation from her. In addition, radiation to the breast does not cause any nausea or vomiting. This is another concern that you don't have to worry about.

On Wednesday, March 17, 2004, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Radiation Therapy UpdatesLydia T. Komarnicky, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about advances in radiation therapy: the newest and best techniques, combining radiation therapy with other treatments, ways to manage, reduce or eliminate side effects, and more.

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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