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letrozole side effects hair loss

letrozole side effects hair loss

What can I do to prepare myself for hair loss?

Hair loss from chemotherapy treatment occurs because the chemotherapy kills not only the cancer cells, butalso healthy cells, including the cells in your hair follicles. After chemotherapy treatment is finished, thehealthy cells repair themselves and hair grows back.

Whether or not you lose your hair depends on the types of chemotherapy drugs prescribed for you.Some types of chemotherapy cause complete hair loss, some cause the hair to thin out, while others mayhave no effect on your hair at all. You may also find that your eyebrows and eyelashes fall out, and that youlose the hair on your legs, arms, underarms and pubic area. This may occur at different stages of yourtreatment. You can ask your medical oncologist or oncology nurse how your chemotherapy may affect yourhair.

On the last page of this fact sheet, you will find a list of common combinations of chemotherapy drugs used totreat breast cancer, along with their likely effect on your hair.Some women who take the breast cancer hormone treatments tamoxifen, anastrozole, letrozole and exemestane may also experience hair thinning because of the oestrogen-lowering effect of these treatments.

However, these treatments are unlikely to cause complete hair loss. Hair thinning usually improves after thefirst year of taking these medications, though some women will experience hair thinning for as long as theytake these medications. If you are still experiencing hair thinning, you may like to discuss with your doctorwhether switching to another one of these medications would be possible, as they may not all equally affectyour hair.

What will it cost?

If you have private health insurance, check with your insurer – some policies cover the cost of wigs and

accessories. If you are covered, you will need a letter from your doctor stating that you require the wig on medical grounds. Make sure your receipt is itemised.

Some hospitals arrange for their patients to receive a discount from specialist wig suppliers – check with your oncology doctor or nurse about this.

Some state and territory Cancer Councils or large oncology units offer wigs at no cost as part of a wig library program. Ask your oncology nurse or contact 13 11 20 for details.

Causes of hair loss

The types of cancer treatments that may cause hair loss are discussed below. Talk with your health care team before your cancer treatment begins to find out if it is likely to cause hair loss. Sometimes there may even be another reason for your hair loss other than cancer treatment, such as thyroid problems or low iron levels.

Chemotherapy. Not all chemotherapy causes hair loss. The following drugs are more likely to cause hair loss or thinning:

  • Altretamine (Hexalen)
  • Carboplatin (Paraplatin)
  • Cisplatin (Platinol)
  • Cyclophosphamide (Neosar)
  • Docetaxel (Taxotere)
  • Doxorubicin (Adriamycin, Doxil)

Hair does not usually fall out right away after you start chemotherapy. Most of the time, it begins to fall after several weeks or cycles of treatment. Hair loss tends to increase 1 to 2 months into treatment.

The amount of hair loss varies from person to person. Even people taking the same drugs for the same cancer will have a different amount of hair loss. How much hair you lose depends on the drug and the dose. It also depends on whether you receive the drug as a pill, into a vein, or on the skin.

If your hair is likely to thin from chemotherapy

  • Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner. Organic products with reduced sulphates are recommended.
  • Try to use a lukewarm water in the shower as hot showers are harsh on the scalp.
  • Brush your hair from the ends upwards towards the scalp, to protect the scalp (one of the reasons for hair
  • loss is the hair breaking off at the scalp).
  • Brush your hair before you wash it, always brushing from the ends upwards. A wet brush is recommended
  • as it is more gentle on the hair.
  • Avoid cutting your hair too short so that if there are small patches of hair loss, you have hair to cover it.
  • When fastening hair, avoid using hair fasteners or hair ties. Pins or crocodile clips are best.
  • Protect your scalp from the sun.
  • Heated rollers or curling wands should only be used occasionally.
  • Avoid perming or straightening your hair.
  • If you colour your hair, ask your hairdresser to use/recommend an organic (vegetable-based) hair colour
  • which will be gentle on your hair and scalp. These may have to be ordered in for you.
  • If you’re considering a hair piece, be careful that it doesn’t put too much pressure on the hair at the scalp or
  • that the clasp doesn’t cause the hair to break off.
  • Dry your hair naturally or use a cool setting on the hair dryer

Conclusion

Alopecia is a common yet underreported adverse event of endocrine-based cancer therapies. Their long-term use heightens the importance of this condition on patients' quality of life. These findings are critical for pretherapy counseling, the identification of risk factors, and the development of interventions that could enhance adherence and mitigate this psychosocially difficult event.

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