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Hair loss from radiation -- permanent?

Has anyone experienced hair loss from radiation (not chemo) that was permanent?

I completed radiation to my neck a few weeks ago. My hair had been gradually growing back in after chemo I had in the fall, but during my last few days of radiation, I noticed that my hairline in back doesn't begin at the nape of my neck, it starts near the middle of my ear.

My radiation oncologist had of course warned me there could be some hair loss there since it's near the radiation field, but when I recently saw my primary oncologist, she said the hair loss could be permanent. That was the first anyone had mentioned it to me! Has anyone experienced this?

This has got me really worried that I'll have to spend yet another year in hats (I just feel weird in my wig) while I wait for the hair growth to cover up my bald stripe. :(


  • 23 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I had radiation to my brain and lost alot of my hair from that (not the chemo) at least 2/3 of my head was bald. I am happy to say that most of it has started growing back and now i don't have any totally bald spots! There is one spot where the radiation was most concentrated that is having a hard time....its kinda sticking up like Alfalfa from theLittle Rascals right in the back...and the texture of it is strange too, very rough to the touch....but the rest of my head has hair roughly 2 inches long on it. Its been about 10 months since i finished the radiation, so the growing has been slow for sure but there is hope!!
    when it first started coming back it was sparse and kinda fuzzy and wierd. Now i just mess with my scalp all the time hoping that it helps somehow (increased circulation??).
  • Thank you, Melissa, that's really encouraging to hear!
  • Its been two years since my radiation and when I got it, the complete back of my head was bald(I looked like the punk girls(mid 90s) in high school that shaved the underside of their scalp!) I'm happy to report that the only place on my head that is bald is where my scar is.
  • I just wanted to follow up in case someone has a similar question in the future: a small (maybe inch and a half wide) area next to my ear is still bald, but the rest of it has started to fill in.

    @melissa, I think increasing circulation to the area does legitimately help. For example, I've had some bad damage to my nails from chemo. It's like looking at tree rings: you can look at the giant dents in my nails and see when my last chemo occurred, but it turns out that all the growth rates vary. The nails on my dominant hand (righty) have all grown faster than the nails on my left hand, and the dominant fingers on the right hand (index and thumb) have grown faster than the rest. The most active fingers (therefore the ones with more circulation) have grown the fastest.

    I had given this vibrating head massager to my brother as a gift several years ago. I borrowed it from him once my hair started growing back and use it each night while I read. I can't imagine that it helps much, but I think it must at least a little bit. If not, it certainly feels nice. My hair is still a bit sparse so I'm in a hat all day. Using it after a day in a hat feels a little like brushing your hair the wrong way after you've spent the day in a ponytail.
  • akay83;6356 said:

    @melissa, I think increasing circulation to the area does legitimately help. For example, I've had some bad damage to my nails from chemo. It's like looking at tree rings: you can look at the giant dents in my nails and see when my last chemo occurred, but it turns out that all the growth rates vary. The nails on my dominant hand (righty) have all grown faster than the nails on my left hand, and the dominant fingers on the right hand (index and thumb) have grown faster than the rest. The most active fingers (therefore the ones with more circulation) have grown the fastest.
    my nails got the tree ring ridges, too.
  • mtbikernate;6357 said:
    my nails got the tree ring ridges, too.

    I've got to think that most people who undergo chemo get them, but it's just one of those side effects that never seems to get mentioned. On my easier chemo there were just some little lines, but with the harder stuff, it's consisted of some pretty bad damage.
  • i finished radiation about a year ago and lost 2/3 of my hair. now parts of my head are still bald but i have noticed that the hair is coming back very slowly. it takes months and maybe years too but most likely it will come back. it just takes a while. otherwise if some of it is permanent you can still grow it out and then flip your hair over to cover the spots with less hair?
  • well...
    I have this problem with my hair,
    hair falls and hair damage, and also i have hair in white color,
    so please help me guys, what should i have to do for it ???
  • Hair Hair Hair Hair

    Well, I had radiation over 2 years ago and still the hair does not grow. I am pretty mad about it all as the radiation was "preventative" and not "necessary" according to the radiologist dr. and they didn't even tell me that the hair would only grow back "in patches" at best until I was half way through!

    I know it is only hair but really? My hair was very important to me and now I cry every single day about it.
  • Sorry to hear that. I know that we feel attached to our hair a lot.
    Sometimes hair doesn't grow up in the area exposed by radiation especially when you use typical combination of medicine and
    radiotherapy. I'm sure you can find some people who can give you the way to get over here. Wish you all the best
  • In some cases all hair are coming back, in some cases not all. The technology can help you if you like to have 100% of your hair back just be patient after your treatment.
  • Hmmm your situation is a different one. I was under radiation last year, and yes I lost substantial amount of hair but they grew back after a year. What I did was I ate the right kinds of food about hair recuperation, then it seems that it worked.
  • I think radiation cause hair loss is not hard to imagine things. It is really happen in Japan. In 1945 the two bombs. BOOM! Now people too much exposure to radioactive machine. The human body could not resist too much radiation. Hair loss is just a small problem. But it is the most intuitive performance. You can't see your body lesions caused by radiation. That is terrible. I advocate green and healthy life, to protect your life, please get away from radiation.
  • Does anyone know if you can lose your hair from taking so many test with radiation. I have radiation about 4 different times lately and min hair is so thin now. I hope it grows back. Has anyone went through this to?

  • I had 5days a week for 2xday radiation and 68hrs of radiation between 07/2007 and 11/27/2007 then had 5days as week for the month of Dec. 2007 on my brain, am blessed to be alive still (have metastatic cancer) my hair fell out the first week it has partially grown back but the top of head remains bald and trying everything, if I find a cure will let you know hon. I'm just thankful to be alive today but the hair thing does bother me.
  • I had a brain tumor in 2014. I had to do 6 weeks of radiation. As of today, the top of my head is bald. It never grew back. So I'm wearing hats or wigs still.
  • I had a malignant brain tumor removed back in May of 2000. I had an oral chemo, I think it was called VP-16, concurrent with 6 weeks of radiation to my neck and spine. I never re-grew my hair on the top of of my head and the hair that grew back on the sides of the sides of my head is thin. I call it hay-hair, it's thin and wiry . I think the radiation killed the hair follicles on the top of my head.
  • I, too had a malignant brain tumor removed in 1994. It resulted to be a very rare type of cancer called "oligodendroglioma." I underwent experimental chemo (oral and IV) and experimental radiation. I'm overjoyed to announce that I am soon to be 22 years old in my second life and I wake up every morning praising God and asking what can I do for Him...he's not done with me.
    I did not suffer any hair loss during chemo but after the first week of radiation my hair felt funny combing it in the front...two days later it fell out in the shower. My hairline receded about 1/3.
    I've tried Nioxin and Rogaine which of course, was a waste of time and money. So, I just let my hair grow long in the front and style it to hide my Klingon markings - holes in my skull where they operated.
    My roommate reminds me which do I prefer...this or the alternative from the operation.
  • zeezee Community Member
    edited March 2017 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I had cancer in 2004, and I am a cancer survivor but my hair doesn't seem to grow as thick as before even after 10years!! Now my hair keeps on falling and it is not as thick as before. However, I am still grateful that I am breathing and very much alive till today. :)

  • LBQuinnLBQuinn Community Member
    Just like many here, I am grateful to be alive and I remind myself of that when I get down about the side effects of treatment that I live with now. But some days, I just want my hair back. I had whole brain radiation a couple years ago. I was told my hair loss might be permanent, but I had brain mets and I didn't want to risk my life for vanity. But then I got my first brain MRI after my radiation treatments and it showed my brain mets had increased to FIFTY. So, I kinda think radiation did nothing to help in my particular case, but did give me the worst side effects, including my inverted mohawk of baldness. I also lost some hearing (I wear hearing aids now) and have exposed bone in one ear, which isn't great.

    But I really just want to find a way to make my hair grow in. I basically have a pixie cut comb-over and cut the back super close to the scalp. I dye my hair blond to make the baldness less obvious. I actually really like my hair this way, I just would like the inverted mohawk to grow in. I hate windy days because it blows up my hair and exposes the thinness below. I don't like wigs b/c they give me headaches...same with hats. I just want someone to find a solution to this for all of us. I've thought about shaving my head fully again to see if that would spark re-growth, but I keep putting it off. Sigh.
  • DeeDee Community Member
    I was diagnosed with Leukemia A.L.L in 1996 i had 2 yrs of chemo and went through radiation treatment as well. Though my hair did grow back initially it was alittle thinner than before. I waited a long time before i coloured it. It was not long before i noticed some hair loss which was on my 21st birthday, hence i have never coloured it since!. Im now 36 and still noticing significant hair loss over the years. While iam forever greatful being a cancer survivor it is incredibly distressing seeing my hair continually thin out. I have tried so many different products without success. ^ I too hate windy days as i have my hair stratigically styled to cover my thin and bald bits.

    Has anyone else experienced continual hair loss after radiation & chemo?
  • I was diagnosed grade 2 in 2003, but upgraded to grade 3 in July, 2016 and needed radiation. My tumor is big and infiltrates most of my brain so the radiation area was very large. I've been done for almost 4 months and the right side of my head is still pretty bald, but I've got some hair regrowth in the back. I've always had long hair, so it's hard, but I'm thankful to still be here and I've found a "tube scarf" by Ganz that is really easy to use for someone like me with absolutely no talent for scarves. Good luck to all of us for more hair! At this point, I don't care what color it is as long as something grows in :-)