Alopecia following cranial stereotactic radiosurgery: A comprehensive review of the literature

J Clin Neurosci. 2020 Oct;80:203-206. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2020.08.020. Epub 2020 Aug 26.


Alopecia is often an undesirable side effect for patients undergoing radiation treatment. Although prophylaxis has been studied for alopecia following radiotherapy and chemotherapy, little research has been done in preventing radiosurgery induced alopecia. Past studies have found that increasing the dose of radiation delivered increases the degree of alopecia by generating a late regenerative response by the hair follicles (HFs). Various studies showed that using hair sparing techniques such as IMRT, VMAT, and HS-WBRT decreases the amount of dose to the scalp, thereby reducing hair loss. It has also been found that the location of the scalp with the highest degree of alopecia is that which is closest to area of greatest dose overlap. Accordingly, preventing dose overlap with arcs or cerrobend blocks has been shown to decrease alopecia. It has also been reported that hair loss is found in the area closer to the contour arcs where the dose is highest. We have reviewed the existing data on the prevention and treatment of radiation-induced alopecia and have presented here a comprehensive review of the reported data and relevant clinical considerations relating to dose, location, and scalp surface area (SSA).

Keywords: Alopecia; Radiation; Radiosurgery; Scalp; Stereotactic radiosurgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / etiology*
  • Cranial Irradiation / adverse effects*
  • Cranial Irradiation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology*
  • Radiosurgery / adverse effects*