Occurrence and severity of alopecia in patients on combination chemotherapy

Ganesh S. Pai, Arayathinal M. Vimala, M. Dinesh

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the study was to evaluate the occurrence and severity of alopecia resulting from combination chemotherapy on cancer patients. The study was conducted during the period 1994-1996 on 58 confirmed cases of malignancies attending the Kasturba Medical College Hospital, Mangalore, South India. The treatment regimens followed were standard protocols recommended for those malignancies and which are widely adopted. Specific drug combinations, their dosage and routes and schedules of administration were studied. The influence of 20 different treatment regimens, most of them in combination chemotherapy, were studied. The patients studied were not receiving any other medication which could have caused alopecia as observed in the present study. The pathophysiology of the hair, as influenced by the treatment regimens, were studied by examination of samples of the affected hairs under a Leica compound microscope. Alopecia was the most dominant side effect influencing 35 of the 58 patients undergoing the treatment (60%). The severity of alopecia was assessed by grouping them in four distinct grades. Specific drugs and their combinations causing varying degrees of severity were identified. The initiation of hair loss in different treatment regimens were analysed. It is seen that alopecia is an early manifestation of cutaneous side effects of cancer chemotherapy. In a majority of patients, the manifestation initiated after the first or the second cycle of administration of the rapeutic regimen, indicating a time interval of 1 to 8 weeks after the start of chemotherapy. Single agent drugs, when used alone or in combination with immunomodulator drugs seem to cause much less side effects, including alopecia, when compared to multiple drug regimens. Microscopic examination of the affected hair showed trichorrhexis, fragmentation, decrease in diameter and depigmentation of the hair shaft.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-104
Number of pages10
JournalIndian Journal of Cancer
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 01-06-2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology


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