Hair loss from chemotherapy could be associated with improved survival rates in cancer patients, according to a new study.
Patients who suffered from hair loss within the first three cycles of platinum and taxane-based chemotherapy showed improved overall survival rates among patients with epithelial ovarian cancer undergoing six cycles of treatment.
Hair loss and cancer survival
Hair loss is a common side effect of cancer treatment as the chemotherapy chemicals used to attack cancer cells can also disrupt hair follicles. While not inevitable, hair loss does present a significant challenge for those who experience it.
Lead researcher Jalid Sehouli said, “This is the first time an association of alopecia with chemotherapy response rates and survival in patients with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer has been revealed.”
More than 5,000 patients were observed as part of a study published in the European Journal of Cancer. In the analysis, 92% of these patients experienced a degree of shedding.
What does this mean?
The team behind the research did admit that there were some limitations to the discovery; Just 5% of all the patients observed did not experience grade two alopecia and the studies included in analysis may have under or over-reported the extent of subjects’ hair loss.
Jalid explains, “Even though our results are important and serve to further enlighten the associations between toxicity and efficacy of cytotoxic chemotherapy, the exact underlying mechanisms and pathways can only be speculative.”
Hope for the future
Those undergoing chemotherapy can opt for a number of treatments to prevent hair loss, such as wearing a cold cap. Fortunately, for most chemotherapy patients this type of shedding is rarely permanent, and generally takes around 9-12 months for normal hair growth to resume. High-dose radiation therapy, however, can cause permanent hair loss.
As reported previously, a team of British and Californian researchers are currently working to prevent hair loss from chemotherapy in the future. It is hoped that the findings from their studies into genetic codes will lead to the invention of new cancer treatments based on DNA coding. These new treatments could be tailored to the individual and would work by targeting only cancerous cells within the body – not other healthy cells, including hair follicles, as happens with the current forms of chemotherapy.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.