Madarosis: a qualitative study to assess perceptions and experience of Australian patients with early breast cancer treated with taxane-based chemotherapy
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Eyebrow and eyelash loss (madarosis) is a common and distressing side effect of chemotherapy for which no protective strategies have yet been developed. The purpose of this study was to develop an overview of perceptions and experiences of women undergoing taxane-based treatment for early breast cancer.
A total of 25 women with a diagnosis of invasive early breast cancer participated in a focus group (n = 5), ages ranging from 35 to 64 (median 50), all had completed therapy with a taxane-based chemotherapy treatment. This focus group used targeted questions to explore participants’ perceptions and experience of madarosis during and following chemotherapy and identified issues associated with impact of madarosis on quality of life (QoL). Thematic analysis was conducted to identify important issues experienced by participants.
Seven themes emerged from the data: (1) timing of regrowth and permanent changes, (2) meaning/importance of eyebrow/eyelashes, (3) preparedness/information given, (4) impact of the hair loss of self, (5) impact of hair loss on others, (6) physiological side effects of loss of eyebrows/eyelashes, and (7) management of loss of eyebrows/eyelashes. In addition, participants noted physical symptoms of eye irritation during their treatment that they attributed to madarosis.
This study highlights the significant impact of madarosis on patients, providing the first published analysis of patient’s attitude and perception of eyelash and eyebrow loss during chemotherapy. Further research in this area is required and will be benefitted from the development of a dedicated instrument/questionnaire that can capture and measure the impact of madarosis on QoL and allow development of clinical trial strategies.
KeywordsMadarosis Quality of life Breast cancer Hair loss Alopecia Questionnaire development
The Australian and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group provided financial assistance with a $50,000 Category 1 Research-Seed Funding.
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