- Cancer Information
- Cancer treatment
- Radiation therapy
- Managing radiation therapy side effects
- Hair loss
If you have hair in the area being treated, you may lose some or all of it during or just after radiation therapy. The hair will usually grow back a few months after treatment has finished, but it may be thinner or have a different texture. Hair loss may be permanent with higher doses of radiation therapy.
When cancers on one part of the face or head are treated, hair on the other side of the head may be lost temporarily due to radiation passing from one side to the other.
For more on this, see Hair loss.
Tips for managing hair loss
- If you are having radiation therapy to your head or scalp area, think about cutting your hair short before treatment starts. Some people say this gives them a sense of control.
- Wear a wig, hairpiece or leave your head bare. Do whatever feels comfortable and makes you feel confident.
- Protect your scalp against sunburn and the cold with a hat, beanie, turban or scarf.
- If you plan to wear a wig, choose it before treatment starts so you can match it to your own hair colour and style. For more information about wig services, call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
- Ask your hairdresser or barber how to style your hair. It may be thinner, or curly when it was once straight, and the new growth may be patchy for a while.
- Contact the Look Good Feel Better program. It helps people manage the appearance-related side effects caused by cancer treatment. Workshops are run for adults and teenagers.
Podcast: Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis
Prof June Corry, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare, St Vincent’s Hospital, VIC; Prof Bryan Burmeister, Senior Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare Fraser Coast, Hervey Bay Hospital, and The University of Queensland, QLD; Sandra Donaldson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Jane Freeman, Accredited Practising Dietitian (Cancer specialist), Canutrition, NSW; Sinead Hanley, Consumer; David Jolly, Senior Medical Physicist, Icon Cancer Centre Richmond, VIC; Christine Kitto, Consumer; A/Prof Grace Kong, Nuclear Medicine Physician, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Sasha Senthi, Radiation Oncologist, The Alfred Hospital and Monash University, VIC; John Spurr, Consumer; Chris Twyford, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Radiation Oncology, Cancer Rapid Assessment Unit and Outpatients, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Gabrielle Vigar, Nurse Unit Manager, Radiation Oncology/Cancer Outpatients, Cancer Program, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA.
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