What types of cancer cause hair loss?

Is hair loss a side effect of cancer?

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled cell growth.

Many are aware that cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation, can cause hair loss.

It’s less commonly known that the cancers themselves also cause alopecia.

What types of cancer cause hair loss?

What types of cancer cause hair loss?

Any cancer on the skin of the scalp that destroys hair follicles will reduce hair in the area.

In addition, the stress that cancer can put on the body can cause hair shedding.

What types of cancer cause hair loss? Below we will discuss some examples:

Alopecia Mucinosa

Alopecia mucinosa is a rare skin disorder that presents with hair loss.  It is caused by accumulation of mucin in the hair follicles with accompanied inflammation which causes destruction.

Alopecia mucinosa is sometimes associated with cancer, specifically cutaneous T-cell lymphoma or mycosis fungoides. It’s presence may predate the cancer by many years.

This condition can occur on any part of the body where hair is present, including the scalp.

The exact cause of alopecia mucinosa is unknown, but it is thought to be related to an overactive immune system.

Read: Alopecia vs hair loss

Skin Cancer

When sun-induced skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), or malignant melanoma (MM) occur on the scalp, they can cause hair loss.

The cancerous cells invade and destroy normal follicular structures.

The severity of hair loss can vary depending on the size and location of the cancerous growth.

Treatment for skin cancer on the scalp may involve surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy, all of which can contribute to hair loss.

Metastatic Cancer

Metastatic cancer, also known as advanced or stage 4 cancer, is a type of cancer that has spread from its original site to other parts of the body.

When cancer cells spread to the scalp, they can damage hair follicles and lead to hair loss.

The severity of hair loss can vary depending on the size and location of the metastatic cancer.

Solid organ cancers such as lung, colon and breast are most commonly the cause of scalp metastases.

Treatment for metastatic cancer may involve chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery, which can contribute to hair loss as well.

In conclusion- what types of cancer cause hair loss?

Sometimes it’s the cancer itself, not the cancer treatment, that causes hair loss.  Alopecia mucinosa, skin cancer, and metastatic cancer are three examples of cancers that can lead to hair loss. Got hair loss? Schedule a consultation with our hair loss expert here!

Read next: Hair loss help



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