A lot of people wonder if Rogaine helps with chemotherapy induced alopecia. I had similar questions about whether this can help or not, so I did some investigating. It seems as though the research that has been conducted was largely either inconclusive or showed no difference between taking Rogaine and Taxotere vs just taking a placebo.
What Does It Supposedly Do?
Rogaine is a product that claims to regrow hair. While it is not generally targeted to those who have lost their hair from chemotherapy, some doctors have recommended that their patients try it. Rogaine’s main ingredient is minoxidil, which functions as a vasodilator. This means that it make the blood vessels dilate. It is a topical agent, meaning you put it on the area you want to vasodilation to take place. If you want to dilate the blood vessel on your head, you spread it on there. No one is really sure how minoxidil actually works to regrow hair. But, the commonly accepted theory is that is helps to open the blood vessels in the scalp, allowing more blood and oxygen to reach the hair follicles, causing hair to grow.
The scientific studies, though, do not show very consistent results. Most of these studies have very small groups, where it is difficult to assess statistical significance of the results. What this means is that there weren’t enough people in the group to really say that any kind of improved results were from the Rogaine or something else like genetics.
The Importance Of Properly Conducted Scientific Studies
For example, if you have 6 people for a test and 3 take Rogaine and 3 take a placebo, the results may not show what would happen on a larger scale. You could have 2 out of 3 people regrow their hair for reasons beyond what is being tested, the Rogaine after Taxotere. On the other hand, you could have 0 out of 3 people show any improvement, but that could be for a variety of reasons. You can see how small sample sizes for studies like this do not offer much useful information or much confidence in its findings. This is why many doctors just recommend that people try Rogaine after receiving Taxotere because is “might” work. There’s not much harm being done other than wasting a relatively small amount of time and money. It’s important to note that that data does not show that it helps, nor does it show that it doesn’t help. Unfortunately, until someone performs a well-conducted trial to see how Rogaine affects the hair loss that’s all the information we have.
The only study I found that actually had a decent sample size shows no significant different between the two groups, one being given Rogaine and the other being given a placebo. You can see the official study here.
Unfortunately, the jury is still out on whether this works so the final answer has to be “no”. This is why so many taxotere lawsuits are being filed and the claims continue to pour in.