October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and that means it’s time to check yourself, schedule your mammograms and breast exams, and get educated! Did you know that there are ways to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy? We talked to Janet Maker, Ph.D. and author of The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Breast Cancer: Take Care of Your Recovery and Remission, to find out how women can prevent hair and nail loss and just how common it is.


What tips are there to prevent hair and nail loss during chemo?

Whether you will lose your hair and nails depends on the chemicals you get, but they can be saved using cold packs on nails and cold caps on hair. The best source of information, and the one I used to save my hair, is The Rapunzel Project.


What are the percentages of women who lose their hair and nails during chemo?

The percentages vary depending on which chemicals are used. One important thing to know is that the makers of Taxotere, which is the most common chemical given for breast cancer, are being sued for failing to disclose the significant risk that the hair loss will be permanent.


Are certain groups more likely to lose hair and nails during chemo (certain age ranges)?

I’m not aware of any age related differences for normal hair loss, but the risk of permanent hair loss with Taxotere apparently increases with age. At age 69 I was told that my risk of permanent baldness was about 17%, which is the reason I used cold caps.


Do you have any questions for Janet Maker? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll get you the best information we can!


Janet Maker, Ph.D., is author of The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Breast Cancer: Take Charge of Your Recovery and Remission, winner of 10 book awards. It is a comprehensive guide for women seeking to understand the range of options for breast cancer care, providing resources and information they need to make the best decisions about their own treatment and the best ways to stay in remission.

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