Skip to main content

Does atezolizumab (Tecentriq) cause hair loss?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Oct 4, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Hair loss (alopecia) has been reported as a common side effect with atezolizumab (brand name: Tecentriq) when used with other anticancer treatments in patients being treated for advanced lung cancer or triple-negative breast cancer. Atezolizumab may also lead to hormone gland problems which can result in hair loss.

Reported side effects may not always be due to atezolizumab, especially if you are receiving more than one cancer treatment that may also lead to hair loss.

When atezolizumab is given as a single agent for treatment of bladder (urothelial) cancer, hair loss (alopecia) was not reported as a side effect by the manufacturer.

Many other side effects besides hair loss, including serious or life-threatening reactions, can occur with atezolizumab. Talk to your doctor about your cancer treatment regimen and what side effects you may experience. Always consult with your doctor about any medication side effects during cancer treatment.

Atezolizumab side effects (in more detail)

Hair loss with atezolizumab in lung cancer patients

Studies in patients with non-small cell lung cancer or small cell lung cancer and also treated with other cancer medicines showed that 35% of these patients (847/2421) experienced hair loss. Over 50% of patients received atezolizumab (Tecentriq) for longer than 6 months and 29% for longer than 12 months.

In the non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) IMpower150 study as reported by the manufacturer, 48% of 393 patients who received atezolizumab with bevacizumab, paclitaxel, and carboplatin (other cancer treatments) experienced hair loss (all grades), while 46% of 394 patients that received bevacizumab, paclitaxel, and carboplatin (without atezolizumab) also had hair loss.

In a study evaluating small cell lung cancer (SCLC), 37% of 198 patients who received atezolizumab with carboplatin and etoposide experienced hair loss (all grades), while 35% of 196 patients who received placebo plus carboplatin and etoposide reported hair loss.

Hair loss with atezolizumab in triple negative breast cancer

Hair loss was the top reported side effect in patients receiving atezolizumab (Tecentriq) plus paclitaxel protein-bound (Abraxane) for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Hair loss (all grades) occurred in 56% of 452 patients receiving atezolizumab plus paclitaxel protein-bound, and in 58% of 438 patients receiving paclitaxel protein-bound plus a placebo.

Hair loss is a commonly reported side effect with paclitaxel protein-bound (Abraxane) and may occur in 50% to 90% of patients

Hair loss with atezolizumab in patients that develop hormone gland problems

Atezolizumab (Tecentriq) can lead to hormone gland problems (especially in the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, pituitary gland and pancreas). According to the manufacturer, hair loss can be a symptom that your hormone glands are not working properly.

Bottom Line

  • Hair loss (alopecia) has been reported as a common side effect with atezolizumab (Tecentriq) when used with other anticancer treatments in patients with lung cancer or triple-negative breast cancer.
  • Hair loss was not reported by the manufacturer when atezolizumab was used as a single agent for the treatment of bladder cancer.
  • Tecentriq may also cause hormone gland problems which can lead to hair loss.
  • Side effects may not always be due to atezolizumab, especially if you are receiving other cancer treatments. Speak with your doctor about expected side effects with your treatment regimen.

This is not all the information you need to know about atezolizumab (Tecentriq) effectiveness or its safe and effective use. Review the full Tecentriq information here, and discuss this information with your doctor or other health care provider.

References
  • Tecentriq (atezolizumab) [product information]. Genentech Inc. South San Francisco, CA. Accessed Oct. 4, 2020 at https://www.gene.com/download/pdf/tecentriq_prescribing.pdf
  • Tecentriq. FDA Approval History. Drugs.com. Accessed Accessed Oct. 4, 2020 at https://www.drugs.com/history/tecentriq.html
  • PACLitaxel (Protein Bound). Professional monograph. Drugs.com. Accessed Oct. 4, 2020 at https://www.drugs.com/ppa/paclitaxel-protein-bound.html

Related Medical Questions

Drug Information

Related Support Groups