For nearly 50% of women, hair loss was the most distressing side effect of chemotherapy

Information and support charity CancerBACUP has dramatically revised its booklet on hair loss - the most traumatic side effect of cancer treatment for many women.  The revamped booklet also now includes practical advice for patients from minority ethnic groups.

Every year more than 3,000 callers to CancerBACUP’s helpline request information on hair loss.  One recent study found that for nearly 50% of women, hair loss was the most distressing side effect of chemotherapy.

The charity’s revamped publication 'Coping with hair loss' offers practical advice and attractive solutions to hair loss, including:

  • Information on the treatments that cause hair loss.
  • Helpful tips on how to look after your hair, both during and after treatment (following guidelines from the Institute of Trichologists).
  • Practical information on a wide range of alternative headwear including headbands, bandanas and hair extensions. There are also brief instructions and suggestions for tying headscarves.
  • Helpful ideas on coping with the loss of eyebrows and eyelashes, as well as advice on caring for skin.
  • Information about the needs of children and teenagers.
  • Details of suppliers of wigs for people from black and minority ethnic groups.
  • A section on feelings, outlining further sources of emotional support.

The booklet also addresses the problems faced by people from minority ethnic groups - for example the choice of wigs available to can sometimes be limited. Marina Raimy experienced this whilst receiving chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. She said: "Seeing my hair fall out was so upsetting and one of the worst parts of the treatment to endure. It felt like both a physical and emotional assault. It was disappointing that the hospital didn’t have a wig that matched my hair type. Having information and access to companies offering a range of suitable wigs could have made all the difference to my recovery."

Kathryn Myhill, CancerBACUP information nurse specialist, said: "The experience of losing one's hair can significantly affect a person's self esteem and how they feel. We receive many calls from people about coping with this visual and distressing symptom.  It’s tremendously helpful to be able to offer a booklet that contains so many attractive ideas and solutions."

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