Hearing loss and tinnitus are common among cancer survivors

Grace Mausisa, RN, left, a research nurse, performs a hearing assessment on study participant Karen Newcomb, part of a clinical trial that assesses hearing damage caused by chemotherapy. Image by Susan Merrell

While children receiving chemotherapy regularly get hearing tests, adults don’t, and a new study from UC San Francisco reports for the first time that significant hearing problems often occur in adult survivors of cancer. the most common.

The researchers found that more than half of the survivors in their study who had been treated with chemotherapy had significant hearing problems.

Previously, it was unknown how often survivors of breast, gastrointestinal, gynecological or lung cancer suffered from clinically significant levels of hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ear).

Our study is the first to demonstrate that hearing loss and tinnitus are widespread problems among survivors of the four most common types of cancer.

Steven W. Cheung, MD

The article is published on Wednesday, July 27, 2022 in BMJ Supportive and palliative care.

“While hearing loss associated with the administration of platinum-based drugs has been reported in adults with testicular and head and neck cancer, our study is the first to demonstrate that hearing loss and tinnitus is a very common problem among survivors of the four most common types of cancer,” said first author Steven W. Cheung, MD, UCSF professor of otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

“Another important and previously unknown finding from our study is that these high rates of hearing loss and tinnitus occur not only with platinum-based drugs, but with another class of chemotherapy drugs called taxanes,” said he declared. “Given that chemotherapy regimens containing platinum and taxanes are most commonly used to treat the majority of cancers, these findings have tremendous implications for clinicians treating cancer patients, as well as cancer survivors. cancer.”

The study looked at 273 cancer survivors, with an average age of 61 who had completed their cancer treatment about five years earlier.

Clinicians should refer survivors for hearing testing on a regular basis.

Christine Miaskowski, RN, Ph.D.

Investigators found that more than 50% had experienced significant hearing loss confirmed by an audiogram, a type of hearing test, and more than 35% reported tinnitus.

Reflecting the negative impact hearing loss and tinnitus can have on mood and social interactions, participants with hearing loss reported moderate to severe levels of impairment in routine activities, such as watching television or radio, talk with family members and friends or converse in Restaurants.

Tinnitus sufferers have reported that the problem interferes with their ability to concentrate or relax, their mood and zest for life, and their sleep.

The findings have important implications for the care of cancer patients and survivors, the investigators said. Because hearing loss and tinnitus are not routinely assessed in patients receiving chemotherapy for breast, gastrointestinal, lung, and gynecological cancers, and many of these individuals may have some degree of hearing loss related to age, hearing loss and tinnitus assessments should be done before, during and after administration of chemotherapy, the authors said.

Additionally, the authors noted that since hearing loss is often underestimated, routine screening and follow-up should be performed by hearing care professionals. Individualized tinnitus management plans require consultation with specialist clinicians.

Notably, while 31% of participants denied having any hearing loss, they were later found to have hearing loss on audiometry.

“While individuals often underestimate hearing problems, our findings underscore the need for cancer survivors to have their hearing tested,” said Christine Miaskowski, RN, PhD, lead and corresponding author, member of the UCSF School of Nursing and the UCSF Helen Diller Family. Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in recognition of her nursing accomplishments.

“Although the type of hearing loss that occurs with platinum and taxane medications is permanent, patients’ hearing can be improved with the use of a hearing aid,” Miaskowski said. “Only 17% of survivors in our study used a hearing aid, suggesting that clinicians should refer survivors for hearing testing on a routine basis.”

Co-authors: From UCSF, the co-authors are Jennifer Henderson Sabes, MD, AuD; Judith Mastick, MS; Gary Abrams, MD; Karin Snowberg, MA; Emely Alfaro, RN, MS; Marisa Quinn, RN, MBA; Steven M. Paul, Ph.D.; Margaret Wallhagen, RN, Ph.D.; and Jon D. Levine, MD, PhD.

Funding: The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute (CA 151692) and the American Cancer Society. The project was also supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health through UCSf-CTSI grant number UL1 TR000004.


Comments are closed.