- Understanding Radiation Therapy: A Guide for Patients and Families
- What is radiation therapy? When is it used?
- How does radiation therapy work?
- Do the benefits outweigh the risks and side effects?
- How much does radiation treatment cost?
- Who gives radiation treatments?
- Informed consent
- How is radiation therapy given?
- External radiation therapy
- Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy)
- Systemic radiation therapy
- Preventing and managing side effects
- Skin problems
- Hair loss
- Blood count changes
- Eating problems
- How will I feel emotionally?
- Will side effects limit my activity?
- Are there long-term side effects I should be concerned about?
- Managing side effects of treatment to certain parts of the body
- Radiation therapy to the head and neck
- Radiation therapy to the brain
- Radiation therapy to the breast and chest
- Radiation therapy to the stomach and abdomen
- Radiation therapy to the pelvis
- Follow-up care
- To learn more
Radiation therapy can cause hair loss (the medical word for this is alopecia). But the hair is only lost in the area being treated. For instance, if you get treatment to your hip, you will not lose the hair on your head. But radiation to your head may cause you to lose some or all of the hair on your head, even eyebrows and lashes.
Most patients find that their hair grows back after treatment ends, but it can be hard to deal with hair loss. When it does grow back, your hair may be thinner or a different texture than it was before. Ask your doctor or nurse if you have questions or concerns about hair loss.
If you do lose your hair, your scalp may be tender and you may want to cover your head. Wear a hat or scarf to protect your head when you are in the sun. If you prefer to wear a hairpiece or wig, be sure the lining does not irritate your scalp. Your local American Cancer Society office may be able to help you get wigs or hats. You may also want to check to see if head coverings are tax deductible or if they are covered by your health insurance.
Last Medical Review: 01/24/2013
Last Revised: 01/24/2013