Epirubicin and Hair Loss
Side effects may occur with the use of epirubicin, and hair loss appears to be one of the most common (occurring in up to 95.5 percent of people taking the drug). Hair loss usually begins to be noticeable within three to four weeks after starting treatment and can occur on all parts of the body. Your hair will most likely grow back within two or three months after you stop chemotherapy.
Hair loss is the most common side effect of epirubicin (Ellence®). In one clinical study, hair loss was reported in up to 95.5 percent of people who took epirubicin in combination with other chemotherapy medications. However, since the other chemotherapy medications also cause hair loss, it is difficult to know to how much epirubicin contributed to the problem. Chemotherapy affects all fast-growing cells throughout the body. Therefore, in addition to killing cancer cells, it also kills fast-growing normal cells. With some chemotherapy medications, such as epirubicin, this can include hair cells.
Usually, hair loss begins to be noticeable within three to four weeks after starting epirubicin. When hair loss does occur, the hair may become thinner or fall out entirely. Hair loss can occur on all parts of the body, including the head, face, arms and legs, underarms, and pubic area. After you stop chemotherapy, your hair will most likely return to normal within two or three months.
Given how commonly hair loss occurs in people taking epirubicin, it may be a good idea to expect and plan for hair loss. You may choose to wear wigs or other head coverings, or you may decide to leave your head uncovered. Also, feeling angry or sad is common and perfectly all right.
If you are concerned about hair loss, be sure to discuss your expectations and wishes with your healthcare provider. Talking about your feelings can help. You may also find it helpful to share your thoughts with someone who has had a similar experience.
(Click Chemotherapy and Hair Loss for suggestions on what to do if hair loss occurs, as well as more information on treating your scalp and hair during chemotherapy.)