Monthly Archives: October 2011

Hair Loss After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Early this week E! news reported that Fashion Police cohost and E! news anchor, Giuliana Rancic, has been recently diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.  Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family.

October is breast cancer awareness month and The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2011 are staggering:

  • 230, 480 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women
  • 57,650 new cases of non-invasive/earliest from of breast cancer will be found
  • 39,520 deaths from breast cancer (women)

In honor of this month allow us to shed light on a topic that is too often overlooked when treating breast cancer: hair loss in breast cancer patients and survivors.

Everyone knows that chemotherapy causes hair loss, but it is assumed once chemotherapy has stopped the survivor’s hair will grow back. What is documented is oncologist may inadvertently be prolonging hair loss for breast cancer patients and survivors by not recommending FDA approved hair restoration medications.

The drug Letrozole, generic name for Femara®, is often prescribed to breast cancer patients and survivors. Letrozole lowers estrogen levels in women, which may slow the growth of certain types of breast tumors that need estrogen to grow in the body. Letrozole was made available for prescription in 1997.

While there are many potential side effects for Letrozole such as high cholesterol, hot flashes, osteoporosis, nausea, etc.,  the side effect most often dismissed or overlooked by treating physicians is hair loss.

In  the Oxford  Annals of Oncology, a  published article entitled Alopecia in a premenopausal breast cancer woman treated with letrozole and triptorelin, physicians found that women complained of a “daily scalp hair loss while combing and progressively developed a diffuse non-scaring alopecia” while on Letrozole. When other causes of hair loss were eliminated, the conclusions from this study showed when topical minoxidil 2% was applied twice a day hair loss stopped, approximately 6-8 weeks later, and hair regrowth was seen.

Hair loss surgeon Dr. Ken Williams of OC Hair Restoration Center in Irvine, California recommends women start using minoxdil 2% or 5% twice a day before starting on Letrozole therapy.  “Women shouldn’t have to chose between cancer and hair loss”, says Dr. Williams.

For Guliana Rancic, and all women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, we pray for faith, hope, and strength to come to you in your time of need.


Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Hollywood Stars Going Bald

Click here to see more celebrities with hair loss.

Jason Alexander Talks About Hair Loss and Toupee

The Daily Mail reports on Jason Alexander‘s recent photos on Twitter of him sporting a new toupee:

He raised eyebrows after stepping out with a thicker head of hair last week.

And after many questions from his curious fans, actor Jason Alexander has taken to his Twitter to explain the mystery of his reappearing locks of hair.

Alexander plays the  “short, stocky,slow-witted, bald man” character, George Costanza, in the great American comdey sitcom Seinfeld.  As this character he constantly is trying to find miracle cures for his balding head. But actor Jason Alexander was living his alter-ego’s dream after debuting a new look the day before his birthday.

Jason grinned as he showed off his luxurious locks as he celebrated his  52nd year by attending a charity poker tournament in Los Angeles. Amazingly sporting a more youthful look, it means Jason has more hair in his 50’s than he had when he played George in his 30’s. The 52-year-old Seinfeld star admitted he is indeed wearing a hairpiece and went on to detail his long battle to address his balding look.

‘The way my hair has receded in the last two years was best defined as dorky,’ he wrote.  ‘I started balding at age 17 and after first being sad, I really embraced it. I was always cast older than my actual age which generally meant better roles.’

‘Also, there was a practical element – onstage and even to a degree on film, my head had become a big beacon, reflecting light in a very obvious and distracting way. My wife and I discussed it and came up with 3 options – do nothing and accept it; shave my head (but I thought that might limit my castability even more) or put some hair back.’

‘I thought about grafts or implants but frankly didn’t trust the results would be good enough and also wanted to retain the option of playing truly bald characters. So I began looking for a hair system. What you see on my head is a really good, semi-permanent hairpiece. By semi-permanent I mean that I can wear it constantly for weeks at a time, if I so choose. I can swim, shower, work out – whatever. It stays on. The reason it looks thin is that I challenged my designer to make me a piece that would look very similar to the way I did 10 years ago. So, it looks like a guy who is losing his hair and isn’t an artificial mop of hair that I never had. So yes, I’m still bald and yes, just like others in my profession who have to either wear make-up or dye their hair or undergo surgery, I now do a little something. It’s honestly no big deal for me and hope it’s not for you either.’

“Hair loss is a serious issue facing many people worldwide. I see teenagers, adults and men in their 60’s who want a more youthful appearance to their face with surgery,” say hair transplant surgeon Dr. Ken Williams  of Irvine, California. Williams adds, “Jason does have advance hair loss and hair transplantation could have been performed to give him a more youthful appearance with his own natural hair.  My own hair loss was near Jason’s and I was able to restore a significant amount back to my frontal hairline. I can relate to his need to restore his hairline”

Real deal:  Alexander showing off his real locks in a newly-released picture of him graduating from Livingston High School in New Jersey back in 1977