OCT 27, 2016 6:12 AM PDT

How Chemotherapy Causes Hair Loss


One of the more difficult parts of a cancer diagnosis is hair loss. Depending on what kid of chemotherapy regimen a patient undergoes, and the severity of the disease, some patients will keep their hair, but many patients lose it. It has to do with how cancer works. When cells grow and divide normally, a process called mitosis, it's all good. When cancer happens, cells go into overdrive, replicating and spreading the disease into tumors, sometimes even moving to other parts of the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system. The goal of chemotherapy is to shut down the rampant mitosis, but many of the regularly used drugs shut down all cell growth, not just the cancerous cells.

Hair cells are naturally pretty fast at dividing, since the hair is constantly growing. Chemo drugs act on these cells, and other fast dividing cells and the result is that new hair growth is shut down and eventually the hair is starved of new cells and falls out. Once the medication is stopped however, the cells are back at it and most of the time hair is regrown. While hair loss and other side effects from chemo are a drag, if the end result is good health, then it's a fair trade.
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
JUL 18, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Closest Ever Images of the Sun Expose Previously Unknown Features
JUL 18, 2020
Closest Ever Images of the Sun Expose Previously Unknown Features
New images from the Solar Orbiter, a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) that launched in Feb ...
JUL 20, 2020
Space & Astronomy
How Do Astronauts Have Fun in Space?
JUL 20, 2020
How Do Astronauts Have Fun in Space?
Scientists who inhabit the International Space Station (ISS) typically have 12-hour shifts. These include two and a half ...
JUL 23, 2020
Health & Medicine
Study Reveals Racial Disparities in Children's Postsurgical Outcomes
JUL 23, 2020
Study Reveals Racial Disparities in Children's Postsurgical Outcomes
A study published this week in Pediatrics revealed racial disparities in postsurgical mortality and complicati ...
AUG 25, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Carbon Foam Spacecraft Could Travel 4.37 Light Years in 185 Years
AUG 25, 2020
Carbon Foam Spacecraft Could Travel 4.37 Light Years in 185 Years
A new study has found that carbon-foam spacecraft could fly between Earth and Alpha Centauri, the closest planetary syst ...
SEP 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Something Unexpected Happens on Mars During Solar Eclipse
SEP 16, 2020
Something Unexpected Happens on Mars During Solar Eclipse
From data captured by NASA's InSight Mars Lander, researchers in Switzerland have found that Mars behaves differentl ...
OCT 07, 2020
Plants & Animals
Tasmanian Devils Return to Mainland Australia
OCT 07, 2020
Tasmanian Devils Return to Mainland Australia
For the first time in about 3,000 years, Tasmanian devils have returned to mainland Australia. According to a report fro ...
Loading Comments...