What is the Connection between Prostate Cancer and Hair Loss in Men?

Black man smiling at home

Prostate Cancer and Hair LossStudies have shown that prostate cancer can be directly linked to early male-pattern baldness; hair loss doctors are currently working towards figuring out how to slow down and even reverse this type of hair loss. It is suggested that early male-pattern baldness could preclude prostate cancer in young men, and that men who start losing their hair at an earlier age than most could be at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. However, the data seems to be inconclusive on this topic and there is still much more research to be done in this area before hair loss clinics can ascertain whether early male-pattern baldness is actually a symptom of prostate cancer.

Common Signs of Early Male-Pattern Baldness

There are many different signs of early male-pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia. Here are some of the most common indicators:

  • Losing hair in a consistent pattern (usually frontal receding hairline)
  • Patchiness in the crown of the head
  • Gradually thinning hair

Many people believe that hair loss has to do with the amount of hair you lose, but this is false. Hair loss actually has to do with the fact that, over time, your hair follicles are shrinking and are therefore unable to replace the hair that has already fallen out.

Is Baldness Linked to Prostate Cancer?

Even though both early male-pattern baldness and prostate cancer are caused by the body’s overwhelming inability to process high levels of testosterone, the jury is largely still undecided in terms of whether the former is directly correlated with the latter.

Many studies show that men who started losing their hair around the age of 45 may be at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, but the pattern of their hair loss is very specific: it starts in the frontal lobes of the head and then spreads to the crown over time. Hair loss is largely a genetic predisposition and is not necessarily an indication of illness or disease. Further research is required to gain a concrete understanding of the relationship between different forms of early male-pattern baldness and prostate cancer.

Early Male-Pattern Baldness and Prostate Cancer

Due to the invasiveness of prostate exams, some doctors are urging patients not to engage in them regularly unless necessary; but for young men who are prematurely losing their hair, it is advisable to at least consult a hair loss doctor. Even if it does not end up being an urgent problem, early detection of possible prostate cancer will increase the chances of survival if prostate cancer is found while also affording the patient the opportunity to pursue hair loss treatments sooner rather than later.

Upon close examination of the above mentioned studies, there are two important factors to keep in mind:

  1. The studies largely relied on the memories of the male participants over a long period of time, asking when they first remembered noticing hair loss years after the fact, which begs the question of whether their memories were reliable enough to be accurate.
  2. The participants in most of these studies were predominantly white males, which negates knowledge of a possible cause and effect relationship between early male-pattern baldness and prostate cancer in other races. Although, it has been recently discovered that black men exhibiting signs of early male pattern-baldness stand a much higher chance of developing prostate cancer. For the most part, there is no mention of other ethnicities.

For men who have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer, or any other type of cancer, hair loss due to cancer and chemotherapy is a very big reality.

How Does Chemotherapy Cause Hair Loss?

While the main purpose of chemotherapy is to attack the malignant cancer cells in the body, it also adversely attacks all of the healthy and fast-growing cells in the body, including hair follicles on the scalp and other parts of the body. This is why hair falls out during chemotherapy treatment. Killing the hair follicles not only causes hair to fall out much faster than usual—for some, it thins out over time, while for others, it falls out in large clumps—but it also prevents the growth of new hairs to replace the fallen hairs.

The rate and intensity at which the hair follicles are attacked varies based upon the level of treatment and the dosage of the chemotherapy drug. For most cancer patients, the adverse affects of the treatment itself are both physically and emotionally devastating. When asked what they fear most about being diagnosed with cancer, death was the number one answer, dramatic hair loss was a close second. Understandably, hair loss due to cancer treatment is hard to deal with because, for most patients, it is a constant reminder of their illness and their resulting vulnerability; it also constitutes constant pity from others. After all, hair loss is one of the most common side effects associated with cancer, even though the disease itself is not known to be the direct culprit.

The good news is that hair loss due to cancer treatment is not permanent and, oftentimes, the hair grows back within three to six months after treatment ends; however, the texture, colour, and thickness might be different at first. As the hair follicles slowly recover from the treatment and gain back their strength, the hair will eventually return to its former glory as well.

Consult a Trichologist as Soon as Possible

The Canadian Institute of Hair and Scalp Specialists is one of the top hair loss clinics in Canada. With 20 years of experience in hair transplants, replacements, and hair loss procedures, our trichologists are also fully licensed hair loss surgeons, which means they can both assess and actively treat your hair loss issues. Feel free to contact us at 905-272-0190 for more information about hair transplants or any other hair or scalp concern.

by Ken Robson

In business since August 1, 1986, I am the president and also a client at The Canadian Institute of Hair & Scalp Specialists. Having worked with a team of Doctors and Chemists over the years I have compiled a great deal of knowledge in this area, originally involved with a Pharmaceutical company manufacturing vitamins for the hair loss industry. Years ago I was fascinated by the new developments in this area as my own hair was beginning to thin. Studying Trichology at the Toronto clinic I then opened my own office and have enjoyed it ever since.