Focal hair loss after partial brain irradiation

Last Modified: April 4, 2003

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My 15 yr. old daughter has a choriod plexus carcinoma. She received chemotherapy & radiation to the ventricles two months ago. Her hair is coming in every where except where the radiation was directed. I'm wondering how long does it take to come back and how long before we know it's not going to come back. 

Answer

Hui-Kuo G. Shu, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

It can be quite distressing for a patient to have hair loss (especially the focal hair loss you typically see in cases where partial brain irradiation is used). It sounds like your daughter may be going through some of that now. The reaction to radiation can be quite variable between patients. However, no hair regrowth at the two month time point post-radiation is cetainly not unusual. While we typically begin to see some evidence of regrowth by two months post-radiation, many factors can affect this timing including the actual radiation dose the area received and whether or not she is on or have been on chemotherapy. Based on what you have told me, I think that it is still too early to tell whether or not some of the hair loss is permanent.