Cancer patients’ grey hair darkened on immune drugs
CHICAGO — Cancer patients’ grey hair unexpectedly turned youthfully dark while taking novel drugs, and it has doctors scratching their heads.
Chemotherapy is notorious for making hair fall out, but the 14 lung cancer patients involved were all being treated with new immunotherapy drugs that work differently and have different side-effects. A Spanish study suggests that may include restoring hair pigment.
The 14 cases were among 52 lung cancer patients being followed to see whether they developed bad side-effects from the drugs — Keytruda, Opdivo and Tecentriq. While most patients did not have a colour change, the 14 cases suggest it’s not an isolated finding.
In 13 patients, hair turned darkish brown or black. In one patient, it turned black in patches.
In another odd twist, the same drugs have been linked previously with hair losing colour in patients with another cancer, melanoma.
The study was published online this month in JAMA Dermatology.