You have a right to oppose Taxotere to avoid permanently losing your hair.
A woman who’s about to undergo breast cancer treatment may be fully aware that a very small percentage of patients who receive Taxotere infusions will suffer permanent alopecia: hair loss.
This irreversible hair loss can range from complete baldness to random stringy wisps of hair on the head.
Taxotere has a significantly higher rate, according to a study, of permanent scalp hair loss than does Taxol, another drug commonly used in breast cancer treatment.
A woman who opposes this drug may be given a response such as, “What’s more important: your hair or your life?”
The problem with this response, though, is that Taxotere isn’t the only effective drug for treating breast cancer.
For example, many breast cancer patients, such as one of my sisters, are given Taxol.
Though treatment with Taxol requires more infusions over a longer period of time, many women will happily agree to this since Taxol is far less likely than is Taxotere to cause lifelong baldness.
For Woman “Afraid” to Refuse Taxotere
Though cold capping technology can help prevent hair loss from chemotherapy, insurance may not cover the cost.
Furthermore, cold capping (which works to prevent the chemotherapy drug from reaching the hair follicles) does not guarantee prevention of hair loss.
“I would encourage her to tell her oncologist that she is concerned about permanent hair loss from Taxotere, and has read research supporting this,” says Jonathan Stegall, MD, an integrative oncologist and medical director for The Center for Advanced Medicine, an adult cancer treatment center in Alpharetta, GA.
“She should ask if there are alternative chemotherapy agents which work the same or similarly to Taxotere, and if so, can those be considered instead.”
It’s Not About Vanity
For armchair quarterbacks, it’s easy to tell women with breast cancer, “It’s just hair. Your life is more important. Don’t be so vain.”
Shirley Ledlie, who permanently lost her thick mane of red hair, is a pioneer in fighting back against Taxotere and Sanofi, its maker.
She has described how living with male pattern baldness is a very cruel reminder of cancer long after the disease has been cured; a reminder of every second of every day of looking sickly.
On her site is a download of a “document to present to your oncologist with study results about permanent hair loss from Taxotere.”
Jonathan Stegall, MD, provides a long-awaited remedy for our cancer problem. Having a successful integrative oncology practice in Atlanta, GA, he’s seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t with cancer treatment. Dr. Stegall is the creator of the Cancer Secrets Podcast and author of “Cancer Secrets,” available on Amazon.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.