Permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia: awareness and attitudes among health care providers

Support Care Cancer. 2020 Jun;28(6):2887-2890. doi: 10.1007/s00520-019-05169-2. Epub 2019 Nov 19.


Purpose: Reports of permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia (PCIA) are increasing in the field of oncodermatology, but there is a dearth of information regarding how it is recognized and managed by health care providers (HCPs) across different medical specialties (dermatology, oncology, and internal medicine).

Methods: A 25-question survey was designed to elicit general knowledge and awareness of PCIA, as well as attitudes about referral and treatment. Responses were collected via REDCap, a secure online application, and analyzed with descriptive statistics, chi-square, and ANOVA tests.

Results: There was a significant difference in the number of subjects who had heard of PCIA prior to starting the survey (Derm 79%, Onc 30%, IM 22%, p < 0.05). A larger percentage of dermatology and oncology HCPs knew the correct definition of the condition (alopecia persisting > 6 months) than IM (42% and 45% vs. 17%) and significantly more had encountered patients with the condition (47% and 45% vs. 17%). More providers in dermatology and IM knew how to diagnose PCIA compared with oncology (84% and 83% vs. 70%). Dermatology HCPs were the only participants who had attempted to treat patients with PCIA, and most providers believed that patients would accept similar types of treatment for PCIA. Dermatology HCPs were more likely to report higher confidence in their abilities to diagnose and manage PCIA than other providers.

Conclusion: The results of this survey identify knowledge gaps about PCIA among health care providers. Therefore, education and multidisciplinary engagement should be pursued in order to improve awareness, diagnosis, referral, and management of PCIA as part of survivorship care.

Keywords: Long-term effects of cancer treatment; Oncodermatology; Permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia; Survey research; Survivorship.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alopecia / chemically induced*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Awareness*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Personnel / psychology
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology
  • Middle Aged
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult