Hearing loss, tinnitus may strike cancer survivors

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By By Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter, health day reporter

(Health Day)

THURSDAY, Aug. 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) — People who have had chemotherapy to treat a range of common cancers should also have a hearing test.

In a new study of 273 cancer survivors, researchers found that more than half had significant hearing loss even though they didn’t realize it.

“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 Dr. Steven Cheung, professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Cheung noted that the problems were found in people who had received different types of chemo drugs.

“These high rates of hearing loss and tinnitus occur not only with platinum drugs, but with another class of chemotherapy drugs called taxanes,” Cheung said in a university press release. “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.”

Children who receive chemotherapy have regular hearing tests, but not adults, the study authors said.

The study, published online July 27 in BMJ Supportive and palliative careincluded 273 people (average age, 61) who had completed treatment about five years earlier for breast, gastrointestinal, lung and gynecological cancers.

More than 50% had significant hearing loss confirmed by a type of hearing test called an audiogram, investigators found. Over 35% reported tinnitus or ringing in the ears.

Participants who had hearing loss reported moderate to severe impairment in routine activities, such as listening to television or the radio, talking with family members and friends, or having a conversation in a restaurant.

People with tinnitus have said the condition interferes with their ability to concentrate or relax, their mood and zest for life, as well as their sleep.

While around 31% of participants denied having hearing loss, audiometry revealed impairments, according to the report.

“While individuals often underestimate hearing problems, our findings underscore the need for cancer survivors to have their hearing tested,” said lead author Christine Miaskowski of UCSF’s School of Nursing and from the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“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.”

Hearing loss and tinnitus assessments should be done before, during and after chemotherapy, the study authors advised. Routine screening and follow-up should be done by hearing care professionals, and tinnitus management plans require consultation with specialists.

SOURCE: University of California, San Francisco, press release, July 27, 2022

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