Talking to your medical team about hair loss
At Cancer Hair Care we are here to support you with any questions you may have about hair loss or hair care. But we are not here to replace the guidance given by your nurse or medical team. However, many people tell us that, for a number of reasons, they find it hard to talk with their medical team about hair loss.
There is an abundance of information, reports and criticism about all forms of cancer treatment and hair loss. So before looking on the Internet or researching, it is always best to speak to your medical team first so that you have clarity about your individual treatment plan in relation to hair loss.
Let us share with you some ideas for talking to your cancer nurse.
Take a look below at some of the commonly asked questions and our answers.
Talking about hair loss with your nurse – commonly asked Q&A
- I have only just been diagnosed and do not know if my cancer treatment will cause hair loss. When should I discuss this with my medical team?
- Why have I not been offered scalp cooling to try and reduce hair loss?
- I want to know when I can make an appointment to get a wig with NHS support
- I don’t want to bother my nurse/oncologist team with questions about hair loss but I really want to talk with someone.
- Some suggested questions to help you get clarity about hair loss
I have only just been diagnosed and do not know if my cancer treatment will cause hair loss. When should I discuss this with my medical team?
At anytime during your diagnosis you can talk with your nurse, oncologist or medical team about hair loss. They may not be able to tell you exactly what treatment path way you will have but they will be able to offer you a time frame of when you will find out. Sometimes people have surgery or other interventions before treatments such as chemotherapy. With this in mind it could be sometime before any treatments affect hair.
It’s really important to find out if your treatment will cause hair loss before starting to plan your hair care.
Why have I not been offered scalp cooling to try and reduce hair loss?
Scalp cooling is becoming more widely available but not all hospitals offer the service and not everyone, for a variety of reasons is suitable to undergo the process.
Scalp cooling is not suitable for people with the following conditions: haematological malignancies (leukaemia, non-Hodgkins and other generalised lymphomas).
With this in mind sometimes you may not be offered scalp cooling because the hospital you are being treated at does not offer it or it’s not suitable for you. However, if scalp cooling is something you would like to try you should feel free to request it. Ask you nurse and make a point that it is important to you.
Take a look in our Scalp cooling section for more information.
I want to know when I can make an appointment to get a wig with NHS support
In most NHS hospitals your nurse will arrange a wig prescription in the form of a ‘referral’ to a wig supplier when you have your ‘pre chemo appointment’. This is normally a week or so before you start your first treatment. Read more about this in our Wig Guide – Visiting your local NHS supplier
I don’t want to bother my nurse/oncologist team with questions about hair loss but I really want to talk with someone.
At Cancer Hair Care we understand that you may want to ask lots and lots of detailed questions about your hair loss. Many cancer nurses will do all they can to help you but they are often limited with time and resources. This is why we have started this charity to help you. Unless your question is medical you can feel free to call our advisors, all of whom have clinical experience and are trained to help you or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may be able to find answers to many of these questions on our website, by calling our team, in booklets provided by your medical team or it may be that you want to ask your nurse. If you are worried about hair loss below are some questions that you may like to ask your nurse.
It may be a good idea to write down any questions for your care team and make a note of their replies so that you are clear about hair loss.
Some suggested questions to help you get clarity about hair loss
For your clarification we recommend you ask the following:
• Does my chemotherapy drug cause hair loss?
• Is scalp cooling an option for me to help reduce hair loss?
• Can you give me an information sheet about my specific treatment and side effects so that I can read about hair loss?
• If hair loss is upsetting me can you make any other suggestions to help me?
• Will I be entitled to a wig with NHS financial support and what do I need to do about this?
• Do you have any leaflets about headwear suppliers or hair care support groups that you can tell me about?
Hopefully your care team will provide you with the answers you need. But if not, we are here to support you. Contact us.
Next planned review: February 2020