The following information is based on the general experiences of many prostate cancer patients. Your experience may be different. If you have any questions about what prostate cancer treatment services are covered by your health insurance, please contact your health care provider or health insurance provider. This education material was made possible by a Grant from the California Department of Justice, Antitrust Law Section, from litigation settlement funds to benefit Californians diagnosed with cancer or their families.
When you have chemotherapy (key-mo-ther-a-pee) to control your prostate cancer, you may have side effects or unwanted changes in your body. Side effects are different from person to person, and may be different from one treatment to the next. Some people have no or very mild side effects. The good news is that there are ways to deal with most of the side effects. You will learn:
It is important for you to learn how to manage the side effects you may have from chemotherapy so that you can keep doing as many of your normal activities as possible.
Hair loss is one of the most common side effects or unwanted changes in your body that can happen when you have chemotherapy to control your prostate cancer. It can be very upsetting. The important thing to remember is that your hair will grow back after your treatment ends. Hair loss happens because the anticancer medicines you take can affect the healthy cells in your body, including the cells that make your hair grow. The amount of hair loss you have will depend on:
Hair loss starts around two to three weeks after you start chemotherapy treatment. Your scalp may hurt at first. Then you may lose your hair, either a little at a time or in clumps. It takes about one week for all your hair to fall out.
There is no way to tell how much hair you will lose during your chemotherapy treatment. The chemotherapy medicines affect each person differently. Some people don’t lose their hair. Other people find that their hair gets thinner. And, other people lose all their hair. Losing the hair on your head is most common. You may also lose hair on your face including your eyelashes and eyebrows, your arms, legs, underarms, and pubic (groin) area between your legs.
Right now, there is no medicine or treatment that will keep you from losing your hair during your chemotherapy treatment.
The good news is that your hair will start growing back three to four months after your last chemotherapy treatment. Your hair may even grow while you are still taking your chemotherapy medicine. Some people find that their hair grows back differently. It may feel different. Some people who had straight hair before their chemotherapy treatment find that when their hair grows back it is curly. Your hair may also grow back a different color.
Just as every cancer patient’s treatment is different, the way each person responds to his treatment is also different. While one person may lose their hair, another may not. However, there are things you can do to help deal with this treatment side effect.
If you need help finding a place where you can get a wig or hairpiece, you can call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Line at 1-800-422-6237 to find out about cancer resources in your local community. If you would prefer to borrow rather than buy a wig or hairpiece, call your local American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or check with the social work department at your hospital. If you need a hairpiece because of your cancer treatment, it is a tax-deductible expense and may be covered by your health insurance. Be sure to check with your health insurance provider.
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If you have any questions, please talk to your doctor or health care team. It is important that you understand what is going on with your prostate cancer treatment. This knowledge will help you take better care of yourself and feel more in control so that you can get the most from your treatment.