There are various type of hair loss that can occur in the setting of chemotherapy for breast cancer. Anagen effluvium is a type of reversible hair loss that can occur within a couple of weeks of initiating certain types of chemotherapy.
At any point in time, each individual hair may be transitioning through one of three main stages : Anagen, Catagen, and Telogen. The Exogen phase referenced by some publications is a shedding phase that overlaps with telogen and potentially anagen of phase of new growth in the follicle.
Anagen is the active growth phase of hair. Catagen is a transitional stage that lasts only a few weeks where the hair follicle has stopped growing and separates from its blood supply. Telogen is a resting phase where the hair is sitting in the follicle, not actively growing. This can last a few months. The Exogen phase is when these resting follicles shed from the follicle.
Anagen is the growth phase for hair. When certain types of chemotherapy are initiated, there is an abrupt disruption in the growth phase resulting in shedding.
There can be a significant psychologic distress that accompanies hair loss of any type.
Although there are not many therapeutic interventions shown to have significant benefit, it is important to remember that some insurance carriers may allot coverage for high quality wigs if this is desired. Referred to as a cranial hair prosthesis, a letter from your doctor or dermatologist may be needed for your insurance to consider this coverage.