Does Herceptin Cause Hair Loss?'

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Name: Miriam

Question: I'm about to start being treated with herceptin - does this cause hair loss?

Answer: Hi, Miriam. As you probably know, Herceptin is the brand name for chemotherapy drug, trastuzumab.

It is commonly used by the NHS for the treatment of certain forms of breast cancer, oesophageal cancer and stomach cancer.

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There are no reported adverse events relating to hair loss of any kind associated with Herceptin / trastuzumab; you will be able to see the relevant potential side effects on the patient information leaflet for this medication which you can ask your oncologist for if they do not already provide you with a copy.

Herceptin is often used in conjunction with other drugs, therefore, you will need to explore the relevant patient information leaflets for these too - or ask your oncologist - to establish any potential Anagen Effluvium hair loss risks, including interactions with any other medications you may already be taking.

If hair loss during chemotherapy becomes a concern, you could investigate the possibility of cold cap therapy administered via a helmet-like scalp cooling system worn during chemo. This chills the scalp to such low temperatures that the chemo drugs are deterred from reaching, and destroying, the follicles, thereby preventing hair loss.

As having cancer is obviously incredibly distressing emotionally, and can also take its toll physically, there is the chance of stress-related hair loss happening.

This is a temporary condition called Telogen Effluvium where it lasts up to six months, and Chronic Telogen Effluvium - or Diffuse Thinning - when it lasts for at least six months.

It causes hair fall from all over the scalp, leaving thinning hair that first presents up to three months after having been triggered but usually grows back naturally.

The shedding can be intense but this is normal; up to 30 per cent of scalp hair - sometimes more - can be affected at the same time, which can be worrying to see when it falls out. However, normal hair growth should resume in due course.

For those who are not undergoing chemo Telogen Effluvium treatment may be a consideration, however, for anyone who has completed their chemotherapy course, a letter from their oncologist confirming they are suitable for hair loss treatment would be required by any Belgravia patients.

If you have any concerns regarding hairloss from your cancer treatment we advise you to speak to your doctor and/or oncologist about this as they will be able to give you a more personalised response based on your medical profile.

We wish you the very best of luck with your chemo and if you have any further general queries, please do let us know.

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The Belgravia Centre

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