In recent years, bald women have become strongly associated with breast cancer. Chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer often cause temporary alopecia, a side effect nearly always dreaded by women but tolerated as a necessary trade-off. However, many women treated with Taxotere have not, and will not, regain their hair.
Multiple studies and strong anecdotal evidence both indicate a connection between Taxotere and permanent baldness after chemo.
What is alopecia?
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. It is a generic word that covers many types of hair loss, including androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness), alopecia areata (an autoimmune condition causing patches of hair loss from the head), and medically-induced alopecia from chemotherapy drugs.
Typically, when a woman undergoes chemotherapy for breast cancer, her hair will begin to grow back between three and six months after completing treatment. Taxotere hair loss is unique in that often the hair does not grow back.
Is there evidence of a link between Taxotere and permanent hair loss?
In 1998, Taxotere manufacturer Sanofi sponsored a study known as GEICAM 9805. The study showed that 9.2% of patients experienced long-lasting alopecia that persisted for a decade or longer. It appears Sanofi withheld these results from patients and medical professionals who would have considered them in deciding on a course of treatment.
A 2012 study published in Annals of Oncology followed 20 women who were treated with Taxotere – either alone or in combination with other chemo drugs – and who experienced persistent hair loss. Nineteen of the women had no family history of hair loss while one participant had a family history of alopecia areata. Hormones were ruled out as a cause and treatment was ineffective. The study concluded that permanent alopecia is a complication that should be discussed in regards to a Taxotere treatment regimen.
Those on the front lines, like oncologists and hair replacement professionals, have noticed that patients treated with Taxotere were more likely to suffer from permanent hair loss. For example, in 2006, an oncologist in Denver alerted Sanofi that his patients treated with the drug were not re-growing hair at the same rate as other patients.
A history of hair
Throughout human history, hair has played a significant role in how society views people and how people view themselves. At the height of Greek and Roman civilization, ornate wigs signified status, and in more recent history, judges and political leaders wore powdered wigs as symbols of their importance. Today, thick, strong hair is associated with youth and wellness, and studies show that when people feel confident in their hair, they also feel more confident in their abilities.
Effects of permanent disfigurement
It is no surprise that life is easier when you feel confident in your appearance, and research backs this up.
A 2014 study out of the Stanford Graduate School of Business found a connection between how people felt about their own attractiveness and where they believed they belonged in terms of social and organizational rank. Even the mere memory of a good or bad hair day affected how they viewed social hierarchy and their place in it.
Women suffering from chemo-induced permanent hair loss have reported disabling impact. In addition to feelings of unattractiveness, these women often feel strain from being permanently viewed as sick. It interferes with personal relationships, work, confidence, self-esteem, and general emotional well-being.
Coping with Taxotere hair loss
The effects of Taxotere alopecia are both physical and emotional, and each can be financially burdensome to treat.
Women suffering from permanent Taxotere hair loss may seek therapy for psychological distress, which can be an ongoing cost. There have been many advancements in hair loss treatments, including high-end hair replacement wig systems utilizing human hair, but these also often entail frequent maintenance and ongoing cost.
Damages can be sought in court to help meet these burdens. Thousands of women have filed Taxotere hair loss lawsuits against manufacturers like Sanofi, and several other docetaxel manufacturers, over the losses that they have suffered due to Taxotere-related permanent alopecia.
Speak with Taxotere alopecia lawyer
Arizona’s Showard Law Firm is one of the only all-female mass tort law firms in the country – we understand the devastating impact that Taxotere hair loss has on victims. If you would like to discuss filing a Taxotere lawsuit, call today for a no-cost consultation.
Additional Taxotere and alopecia resources:
- Annals of Oncology, Permanent scalp alopecia related to breast cancer chemotherapy by sequential fluorouracil/epirubicin/cyclophosphamide (FEC) and docetaxel: a prospective study of 20 patients, https://academic.oup.com/annonc/article/23/11/2879/234091
- Stanford Graduate School of Business, Researchers: A Few Bad Hair Days Can Change Your Life, https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/researchers-few-bad-hair-days-can-change-your-life
- Huffington Post, The Psychology Behind a “Good Hair Day”, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivian-diller-phd/good-hair-day_b_1191203.html
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