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How common is hair loss with Ibrance?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on June 18, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Key Points

  • Ibrance (generic name: palbociclib) more commonly causes hair thinning rather than total hair loss. Hair loss is also referred to medically as alopecia.
  • In Ibrance studies, when used with other treatments that also contribute to hair loss, about 18% to 33% of women reported hair loss or thinning of varying degrees, depending upon which drugs they were taking.
  • Other side effects due to Ibrance may include increased infections, low red blood cell counts, tiredness, feeling sick to your stomach, diarrhea and mouth sores, among others. Always discuss side effects with your doctor.

Alopecia, or hair thinning or loss, is a side effect that can occur with many different cancer treatments. It can be a distressing side effect for patients. Hair loss or hair thinning is one of the more common side effects with Ibrance. However, in Ibrance studies, most patients did not report total hair loss.

You’ll probably start noticing hair thinning or loss about 2 to 3 months into treatment. Your hair will generally start to regrow if your doctor decides you should stop treatment. It might even improve while you are still on therapy.

Most of the hair loss seen with Ibrance treatment involves hair thinning and is worsened by other medications you’ll need to take.

  • Aromatase inhibitors like letrozole (Femara) and fulvestrant (Faslodex), an estrogen receptor antagonist, are therapies often added to Ibrance treatment for breast cancer.
  • Unfortunately, these drugs can add to the hair loss side effect.

Hair loss in Ibrance clinical studies

Hair loss as a side effect with Ibrance was reported in Phase 3 clinical trials submitted to the FDA.

In the PALOMA-2 clinical study, Ibrance led to hair thinning or loss in about 33% (33 out of every 100) patients also using letrozole (Femara). When Ibrance was used with an inactive placebo, hair thinning or loss was reported in 16% of patients.

In the PALOMA-3 study, Ibrance plus placebo was compared to Ibrance plus fulvestrant (Faslodex). In the group receiving Ibrance plus fulvestrant (Faslodex), 18% (18 out of every 100) patients had hair loss or thinning compared to 6% in the Ibrance plus placebo group.

How can I manage hair loss with Ibrance?

Some women may not have significant hair loss with Ibrance, while for other women it may be more noticeable. Some women also say that their hair loss is not noticeable to others, although it is to them.

If you have long hair, and find your hair thinning is troubling to you, consider a shorter hair style, which might be easier to manage. You might also want to consider using a scarf, hat or wig if you find that your hair loss is noticeable and you'd like to try one of these options.

Other more common side effects with Ibrance include:

  • blurred vision
  • change in taste
  • decreased appetite
  • diarrhea
  • dry skin
  • fever
  • increased tearing
  • infections
  • lack or loss of strength
  • liver test changes
  • loss of appetite
  • low white blood cells
  • low red blood cells
  • low platelet counts
  • nausea
  • skin rash
  • sore mouth
  • tiredness
  • vomiting

Call your health care team right away if you feel dizzy or weak, notice that you bleed or bruise more easily, or experience shortness of breath or nosebleeds while on treatment.

Always discuss any side effects of Ibrance treatment with your health care provider.

What is Ibrance used for?

Ibrance, from the manufacturer Pfizer, is used to treat adults living with hormone-receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer that is advanced or has spread in the body (metastatic).

Ibrance is used in combination with a hormonal therapy called an aromatase inhibitor for postmenopausal women or men who have not been treated with hormonal therapy before.

  • Aromatase inhibitors include medicines such as anastrozole (Arimidex), exemestane (Aromasin), and letrozole (Femara).
  • In clinical studies, Ibrance was studied with letrozole in postmenopausal women but is approved by the FDA to be used with any aromatase inhibitor as first-line treatment. Fulvestrant (Faslodex) is considered an estrogen receptor antagonist.

It is also approved for use in combination with fulvestrant (Faslodex), an estrogen receptor antagonist, for those whose disease worsens after using an aromatase inhibitor.

Bottom Line

  • Ibrance tends to cause more hair thinning than a total hair loss. Hair thinning often becomes noticeable two to three months after treatment starts.
  • In studies, about 18% to 33% of women reported hair thinning or loss. This was possibly worsened by the other medications that they were taking such as letrozole or fulvestrant.
  • Always discuss any side effects of Ibrance treatment with your doctor. They can give you a better idea of how treatment may affect you individually.

This is not all the information you need to know about Ibrance for safe and effective use. Review the full Ibrance product information here, and discuss this information with your doctor or other health care provider.

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