What types of cancer cause hair loss? Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer. It can be temporary or permanent depending on the type of treatment administered and the tumor being treated. In some cases, it may be an early sign of a more serious health problem. Hair loss is also associated with certain medications that are used to treat cancer.

There are many different kinds of cancer that can affect your scalp and hair. These include:

breast cancer:

This kind of cancer affects about 1 in 8 women at some point during their lives. Breast cancer cells usually start out as small lumps called tumors. They grow into larger masses and spread through lymphatic vessels to other parts of the body. The most common symptom of breast cancer is a lump under the skin (a mass) or in the armpit (an armpit). Other symptoms include pain, redness, swelling, tenderness, nipple discharge, and changes in size, shape, or color of the nipples. A woman who has these symptoms should see her doctor right away.

prostate cancer:

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. Prostate cancer starts when abnormal cells form in the prostate gland, which makes fluid that helps keep sperm healthy. As this disease progresses, the prostate enlarges and produces less fluid. This leads to problems such as difficulty urinating. If you have any concerns about your prostate, talk to your doctor. You may want to get checked if you have trouble getting or staying hard after sex or if you notice blood in your urine.

colon cancer:

Colorectal cancer begins in the colon or rectum. Most people do not know they have colorectal cancer until it’s too late. Symptoms include bloody stool, constipation or diarrhea, abdominal cramps, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and unexplained bleeding from the rectum or anus. Colonoscopy is the best test for detecting colorectal cancer before it spreads.

lung cancer:

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States. Lung cancer often does not produce obvious signs or symptoms in its earliest stages. However, once lung cancer has progressed beyond the lungs, it becomes harder to cure. Early detection of lung cancer can help improve survival rates.

skin cancer:

Skin cancer is caused by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the skin. Skin cancer is divided into two main categories: melanoma and non-melanoma. Melanomas are malignant, but non-malignant skin cancers are not. Non-melanoma skin cancers include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

brain tumors:

Brain tumors are solid tumors that develop in the brain. Brain tumors are classified according to what part of the brain they begin in. There are four major types of brain tumors: astrocytoma, ependymoma, medulloblastoma, and oligodendroglioma.

colorectal cancer:

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the world. It occurs mostly in older adults. Colorectal cancer is also known as bowel cancer because it develops in the large intestine and/or rectum.

cervical cancer:

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide. It is more common in developing countries than in developed ones. In the U.S., cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women. About 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year.

bone marrow disorders:

Bone marrow disorders are diseases that affect the bone marrow. Bone marrow is where blood cells are made. Blood cells are needed every day to protect against infection and to carry oxygen around the body. When there aren’t enough blood cells, the person will become anemic. Some conditions weaken the immune system, making someone more likely to get infections. Others make it difficult for the bone marrow to create new blood cells.


Leukemia is a group of blood cancers characterized by the overproduction of immature white blood cells (called leukocytes) in the bone marrow. Leukemias are further subdivided based on their appearance under a microscope. They are called acute leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and chronic neutrophilic leukemia.


Lymphoma is a general term used to describe several different types of cancerous tumors that start in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that carries lymph fluid throughout the body. Lymph nodes are small organs located along the lymphatic vessels. Cancerous tumors may grow within these lymph nodes or spread to them through the bloodstream. Lymphoma is usually treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

How is hair loss diagnosed?

Hair loss is a common complaint among patients. Although there are no tests to diagnose hair loss, doctors will look for specific patterns of hair loss. For example, bald spots indicate male patterns of alopecia. Women with female patterns of alopecia usually lose all of their hair on the top of their heads. Female pattern alopecia is also known as “bilateral recession.”

Female pattern alopecia occurs because of an imbalance between hormones produced by the ovaries and adrenals. It is more common in older women than younger ones.

Male pattern alopecia involves a receding hairline, thinning hair, or balding. Men usually lose scalp hair first. Hair loss then moves down the sides of the head and eventually covers the whole scalp. Male pattern alopecias are caused by androgenic alopecia, a condition where testosterone levels rise. In response, hair follicles stop producing hair.

Alopecia totalis is a type of alopecia that causes permanent hair loss over the entire scalp. Alopecia Universalis is a form of alopecia totalis that affects both men and women. Alopecia areata is another kind of alopecia, which affects only people who have the disease. People with this condition lose patches of hair that come back after some time.

hair loss during cancer treatment

Many times, when we think about cancer, we think about the disease itself. We forget that there are other factors that could also contribute to hair loss. A 2015 review found that approximately 65% of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy experienced hair loss during treatment. While this number may seem high, it is important to remember that it is still a minority of all cancer patients. There are many reasons why someone might lose their hair during chemotherapy. One of them is telogen effluvium, a condition in which one of the 3 phases of hair growth is interrupted.

Hair growth cycles are divided into three phases: Anagen, Catagen, and Telogen. Hair grows during the Anagen phase, which lasts about three years. During the next two weeks, the hair goes through a transitional stage called the Catagen phase. Then, after another month, the follicle enters the final resting period, the Telogen phase. If there is not enough hair growth, or if the hair is damaged, hair loss will occur. There are several causes of hair loss, including stress, illness, hormone imbalance, and genetics.

Telogen Effluvium is an uncommon condition that causes the shedding of hair. Usually, this happens after a stressful event, like childbirth or surgery. Telogen Effluvium usually occurs in women, but men can also get it. Hair loss may last anywhere from 3 months to 2 years.

If you have had any kind of cancer, you should talk to your doctor about whether your hair loss is related to cancer. Your doctor may recommend a biopsy to determine what type of cancer caused your hair loss.

How do I know if my hair loss is due to cancer?

  • You may notice changes in your hair before you see a doctor. You may feel as though your hair is falling out more than usual. Or, you may find that your hair feels dry or brittle. Any change in your hair should be discussed with your doctor.
  • You may want to ask your doctor about these symptoms:
  • Your hair has been falling out for a long time.
  • You’ve noticed that your hair is thinning.
  • You’re having trouble styling your hair because it’s so weak.
  • You’ve noticed a rash on your scalp.
  • You’re experiencing pain in your scalp.
  • You’ve noticed redness, swelling, or itching around your eyes.
  • You’re noticing white spots on your skin.
  • You’ve noticed weight gain.
  • You’ve noticed new bumps or lumps on your body.
  • You’ve noticed bleeding under your arms or between your legs.
  • You’ve noticed a lump in your breast or neck.

What are some common causes of hair loss?

There are many different things that can cause hair loss. Some of them include:


Chemotherapy drugs affect the cells that produce hair. The most common side effect of chemotherapy is hair loss. It can happen at any point during treatment, even up to 10 years later.

Alopecia areata:

This is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks hair follicles. Alopecia areata can cause patchy balding on the head or eyebrows.


Radiation therapy can damage the hair follicles. It can cause permanent hair loss.


Chronic stress can lead to hair loss.

Hormonal imbalances:

Changes in hormones can cause hair loss. These changes can come from pregnancy, birth control pills, thyroid problems, or certain medications.


Women who experience perimenopausal or postmenopausal hair loss often report increased


Scleroderma affects connective tissue throughout the body. It can cause hair loss on the face, hands, feet, and ears.


The best way to prevent hair loss is to take care of your hair. Get regular haircuts and use good quality products. Make sure you wash your hair regularly and keep it moisturized. Avoid using harsh chemicals on your hair. And, don’t smoke!