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Symptom Management:

Symptom Management

Side Effects of Treatment
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Pain
Fatigue
Appetite Loss
Bladder Disturbances
Incontinence - Urinary
Bleeding
Constipation
Diarrhea
Dryness of the Mouth
Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances
Hypercalcemia
Flu-like Syndrome
Hair Loss
Infection
Anemia
Itching
Lymphedema
Menopausal Symptoms
Nausea & Vomiting
Neurological Disturbances
Spinal Cord Compression
Peritoneal Effusions
Shortness of Breath
Skin Conditions
Sleep Problems (Insomnia/Oversleeping)
Sore Mouth
Swallowing
Bone Metastases
Coping
Anxiety
Depression
Grief
Sexuality Issues
Sexual Dysfunction
Alopecia

Symptom and Description Alopecia, or hair loss, occurs with certain chemotherapy drugs that have a good chance of causing hair loss. Hair loss can begin 10 to 21 days after drugs are begun, with total loss in 1 to 2 months. Hair on your head is often lost first, but hair over the entire body can be lost. If a wig is to be used, it is important to be fitted for a wig right away. Regrowth may begin while you are still on chemotherapy, although it will be slow. Full regrowth happens when chemotherapy is finished.

Learning Needs You may need to learn to protect your scalp and skin with head covers and skin protection factor (SPF) products. You will need to learn when to expect hair loss, how it may happen, and where to go to find a wig or other acceptable head covering.

Prevention Stopping hair loss may be impossible. Your doctor or nurse may be able to describe some measures that can slow or lessen the loss of hair. These are not always successful, however, and may be used less with some drugs. Prevention of hair loss may be difficult because chemotherapy drugs are meant to reach throughout your body via the blood. When this occurs, we cannot stop them from reaching hair cells.

Management

  • Think about getting a wig, hat, or scarf early in your treatment schedule, before you lose your hair.
  • Remember that skin suddenly exposed can be sensitive and must be protected.
  • Always remember that hair loss is a temporary side effect of chemotherapy.
  • Hair loss may change the way you feel about yourself. If your feelings are stopping you from doing important things, share them with your doctor or nurse.

Follow-up The American Cancer Society offers "Look Good, Feel Better" classes for people who have hair loss during cancer treatment. There is a lot of information to help you to cope during this difficult time in your life. Discuss with your doctor or nurse at least each cycle of therapy how you are coping with hair loss while on treatment.

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2004 2nd Cancer Opinion USA