Getting diagnosed with and being treated for cancer is difficult, but it can be a tougher ordeal women because of all the body image baggage that comes with the disease. A common side effect of breast cancer treatment is hair loss because some treatments targets rapidly-dividing cells — including those in the hair follicles. Sometimes, public figures is make a bold gesture against body image insecurities by being photographed hairless and wig-less.
Former Good Morning America host Joan Lunden was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in June 2014. Her first order of business was to make the announcement. She went on the ABC morning show and confided in cancer survivor Robin Roberts, who advised her not to wait for her hair to gradually fall out because the waiting and watching can be agonizing.
A week after her pilot chemotherapy session, the People Magazine covergirl decided to shave off her blonde hair and buy a wig. Admittedly, she said a woman can’t help but feel less feminine and less attractive once her hair is gone, but she took a big leap and agreed to take the wig off for the magazine shoot.
Going public shows cancer patients that the disease does not define the person, and that bodily changes are not the end of the world. Knowing that you can still make decisions over how you would like to appear is very empowering.
The biotech industry is actively engaged in researching and developing therapeutics to mitigate hair loss from cancer treatments. Recently, US Oncology Research together with Baylor College of Medicine recently launched a clinical trial called, “Scalp Cooling Alopecia Prevention Trial” (SCALP), which will study the efficacy of an existing scalp cooling system indicated for the reduction or prevention of chemotherapy-related hair loss, which occurs in about 65% of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.