Radiotherapy hair loss FAQs

What is radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy is the therapeutic use of X-rays, beta rays and gamma rays, administered in cancer treatment. Radiotherapy is also known as radiation therapy (chiefly in the USA) can result in hair loss.

How does radiotherapy work?

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells by damaging their DNA. The rays have precise entry and exit points, but can also damage normal tissue near the cancer.

Why does radiotherapy cause hair loss and balding?

Intense radiation aimed at the scalp kills cancer cells, but also damages healthy cells around hair roots and follicles. This stops the natural growth cycle.

How much hair will I lose?

Bald patches will appear in areas of the scalp undergoing treatment. The bigger the area, the greater the hair loss. The duration and intensity of the rays also affects the amount of hair lost.

Will my hair grow back after radiotherapy treatment?

Hair tends not to grow back as thickly. Also, regrowth can be patchy. Hair loss may be permanent if intense treatment is applied to large areas of the scalp.

What can I do about my hair loss?

For small patchy areas of balding common with radiotherapy, we recommend our custom-made, integrated hair system. These are pieces made of human hair, professionally fitted to stay securely in place, blending in naturally with existing hair. For total hair loss, specially designed human hair medical wigs are the best option.

The hair pieces are made in-house at Wigs by Haircreations or for men, Hairtoday. They blend perfectly and have an undetectable hairline.

We specialise in wigs and hair pieces for people with cancer. All our wigs are perfect for the medical field. Wigs made solely for the fashion market are inadequate for everyday or long-term wear.

Am I entitled to a medical grant?

Yes, grants do cover hair loss caused by radiotherapy. Find out more on our Medical grants page.