Most people aren’t aware that chemotherapy and radiation can have a profound effect on your ability to hear. It is essential that any cancer patient treated with chemotherapy or radiation get their hearing tested regularly during the course of treatment.
Oncologists are discovering side effects of chemotherapy agents such as carboplatin and cisplatin that can have a serious impact on a patient’s quality of life. One such impact is ototoxicity — damage to the inner ear by a toxin. It is important to work with patients undergoing chemotherapy by monitoring changes in hearing. Measuring otoacoustic emissions and conducting ultra high frequency monitoring are ways that we can identify, track, and report changes in hearing for our patients undergoing chemotherapy. Studies have shown that between 10% and 30% of adult patients who are treated for cancer report some hearing loss following treatment.
It is important to establish a baseline hearing test prior to treatment, as well as periodically during the course of treatment, as oncologists are sometimes able to make adjustments to their treatments (such as modifying dosages) to preserve hearing.
It is also crucial for those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation to consider amplification if a loss is discovered. Amplification has the power to improve the overall quality of life in all people with hearing loss, especially in those undergoing treatment, as it can ease communication with those closest to them. Hearing loss is more than just a decrease in hearing sensitivity; it is a decrease in our ability to communicate with ease with those around us- your family members, friends, doctors, and so many others. Many people who have untreated hearing loss report that they stop participating in activities they enjoy because they are embarrassed when they hear the wrong word and, in turn, say the wrong thing. Untreated hearing loss can also cause people to become more withdrawn, isolated, and depressed. If a hearing problem is discovered during the course of your cancer treatment, know that you have resources available to you. At Hearing Health Center, we would like to make sure that your hearing is the best that it can be.
If you have had treatments for cancer and never had a hearing test, it is not too late. Through the end of the year, Hearing Health Center would be happy to offer a free hearing screening and high frequency assessment for anyone who has undergone, or is currently receiving, cancer treatments.