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Hair Fall/ Targeted Therapy

Forums General Melanoma Community Hair Fall/ Targeted Therapy

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    Summer S.

      Hey everybody, 

      I know this one is a minor concern, especially we are very blessed that all the other nasty side effects have calmed down for a while. 

      My mom’s hair started to gradually fall, she still did not notice it or associate it with medicine yet. 

      I donot know what should I do? I donot want her to freak out when when/if she finds out about it (in case it continues to fall) 

      Also, do you guys have any tips or tricks to slow it down or to manage this? 

      Thanks 🙂 


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          Unfortunately hair and nail changes are a known side effect of targeted therapy.  Hair loss as well as hair changes….like what was once straight becoming curly….can occur.  Here is a report that talks about it:

          Hair and nail adverse events during treatment with targeted therapies for metastatic melanoma.
          Dika, Patrizi, Ribero, et al. Eur J Dermatol. 2016 Jun 1.

          Targeted therapies for melanoma have shown clinical benefit in increasing the survival of metastatic patients. Cutaneous adverse events have been reported, but hair and nail data have been rarely detailed. Patients treated with BRAF and MEK inhibitors for metastatic melanoma underwent dermatological evaluation before the start of each treatment and after every four weeks. Pull test, global photography, dermoscopy/trichoscopy and scalp biopsy were performed. Appendages adverse events were graded using the National Cancer Institute's Common Terminology Criteria. Of the 24 patients included, 14 underwent treatment with a selective BRAF inhibitor; 10 received a combined treatment (dabrafenib/trametinib). Adnexal adverse events were common in the group of patients receiving vemurafenib, and included hair kinking, acute hair loss, and hair colour changes, often present in association, classified as G2 in three patients and G1 in eight. Dabrafenib alone induced hair kinking and colour changes in 60% of the patients. Combined treatment with dabrafenib/trametinib did not induce hair changes. Onycholysis was the most common nail side effect, and the unique side effect of dabrafenib (alone or in combination). Vemurafenib also induced acute paronychia and brittle nails. All nail side effects were graded as G1. Hair and nail side effects during targeted therapy for melanoma are not rare. The early recognition and cure of such side effects by dermatologists is of benefit to ensure the need for dose reduction or drug discontinuation.

          I am sorry that your mom may have to deal with one more insult from her melanoma treatment.  I suppose you could consider stopping treatment…however, given the alternatives and the way melanoma plays, that could be very risky.  I would certainly talk to her oncologist about her hair changes.

          I wish you and your mom my best.  Celeste

            Summer S.

              Hello Celeste, 

              Thank you for the very thoughtful and informative reply. It is helped me further understand what is going on, and eventually make better decisions. 



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