Rock legend Ronnie Wood has revealed that he turned down chemotherapy following a recent cancer scare because he was worried it would lead to hair loss.
Talking to the Mail on Sunday’s Event magazine, the 70-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist said that the suggestion of chemotherapy came up when he was being treated by doctors for a growth in his chest, but he said “no way” because “this hair wasn’t going anywhere.”
Keep the faith
Instead, Wood said he kept the faith that everything would be alright, and underwent a five-hour operation in which doctors removed a cancerous “lung lesion” from his chest. The musician admits that his brush with cancer did cause him to think that this might be the end of his life.
“There was a week when everything hung in the balance and it could have been curtains – time to say goodbye,” he told the magazine. “You never know what is going to happen.” Continues below…
Hair loss during chemotherapy is very common, and happens when powerful cancer drugs travel through the bloodstream to the scalp and damage hair follicles. In many cases, hair then falls out during the weeks after treatment, though this will usually grow back in six months to a year once treatment has ended. This doesn’t make chemotherapy-related hair loss any less distressing however, and it is for this very reason that many people sign up to use a device called a cold cap when offered.
By chilling the scalp, a cold cap can slow down blood supply in that area and keep most of the chemotherapy drugs at bay. Some of the manufacturers of these devices, which are quite widely available in all of the UK apart from Northern Ireland, claim very high success rates.
Image linked to hair
Rates of chemotherapy refusal based on a fear of hair loss (as opposed to it making patients feel unwell) are not known, but it seems likely that people turning it down chiefly because of fears about shedding will be relatively rare. While there is little doubt that Wood’s trademarked long hair is all part and parcel of his image, most people would probably accept the possibility of thinning as an unfortunate part of their treatment.
What is certain is that many people are deeply attached to their locks and feel devastated when they are affected by a hair loss condition or chemotherapy drugs that cause them to lose what they feel to be a key part of their identity.
In the future, developments in cancer drugs will mean that more targeted treatments that are able to hone in on tumours more effectively will reduce hairloss from chemotherapy and possibly even make it a thing of the past. For several years now, doctors in the UK have been sequencing the genomes of 100,000 people with cancer and other rare diseases in the hope of being able to personalise future treatments.
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.