Health Library
Hair Loss with Cancer

Why is There Hair Loss with Cancer?

Hair loss is a common side effect of cancer-fighting drugs and radiation therapy.

Hair loss may be a slow process that takes a month or more. First, you may notice more hair on your pillow or on your child's pillow in the morning or more hair on the comb after combing. Then the hair falls out more quickly.

What to Expect

In most cases, hair grows back shortly after treatment stops. Eyebrows and eyelashes may or may not get thin and/or fall out. When the hair does grow back, it may be a different color or texture. In some cases, especially with radiation therapy, the hair may not grow back where radiation was received.


  • Consider a shorter haircut before the hair begins to fall out. This can make the adjustment to the hair loss easier.
  • Choose some type of head covering to hide the loss of hair or choose to wear no head covering at all. Head covering choices may include a baseball hat, scarf, wig or turban. Wear a head covering while outside to prevent sunburn.
  • If you have questions about a wig, ask a social worker. There are many companies that make wigs. Check with your insurance company to see what, if any, of the cost will be covered.

This can be a difficult time. There are books and other resources available to help adjust to hair loss. If you need help, ask your doctor or nurse or your child's doctor or nurse.

Last Updated 11/2021

Reviewed By Katrina Richardson, MSN, APRN, CNP