Taxotere is an anti cancer medication that inhibits the spread and growth of cancer cells in the body by stopping them from separating into two new cells. It is mostly used in the treatment ofstomach cancer as can be seen here: https://www.cancer.gov/types/stomach. Additionally, it is used to treat breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and head and neck cancer. Just like every other drug, taxotere has been known to have extreme side effects. One of these side effects is hair loss. This is a major blow for many women undergoing cancer treatment because hair is the crowning glory.
After using taxotere, hair usually falls out completely in eight out of ten people treated. This discourages many female patients from getting treatment for cancer. They are advised that after the treatment their hair will grow back. However; there are some patients who complain that their hair did not grow back to the pre treatment state. This has even caused patients to file lawsuits against the manufacturers of taxotere with the claim that the company concealed information about the toxic effect of the drug on hair follicles. There is more on this lawsuit here.
A study by Dr. Sedlacek was done in 2006 to investigate the hair loss hypothesis of taxotere. Data was collected on about five hundred patients who had received the cancer treatment. He discovered that even the patients who did not receive a complete dose of taxotere were also stricken by hair loss. He finally concluded that taxotere leads to permanent hair loss. Most of the women who lost their hair said they experienced male baldness pattern. They had to resort to wigs and weaves so as to improve their self esteem.
He advised patients and doctors to keenly consider the risks before choosing the treatment. It is still a wonder why taxorene is the cancer treatment drug that has the highest risk of permanent hair loss than other chemotherapy drugs including its closely related drug taxol. Taxorene has twice the potency of taxol because it is absorbed more readily by the cells, it holds more tightly within the cell and it is also retained for a longer time within the cells. This translates into higher toxicity levels which are believed to be the cause of the permanent hair loss.
How chemotherapy causes hair loss is because the drugs are designed to kill the cancer cells but it does not only target them. Normal cells in the body are also killed by chemotherapy. Some of these cells are the ones that are used in the production of hair among other body organs. This is what causes the other common side effects like nausea, low blood cell count, digestive problems and susceptibility to mouth sores.
Though many cancer patients are aware of the side effect of hair loss, nothing prepares them for the devastating reality of the hair loss. It has a very negative side effect emotionally and psychologically and their self esteem is completely crushed. It is very important for them to undergo counseling during this difficult period so they can have hope for the future. They should also be advised to embrace the possibility that they may be bald for the rest of their lives.