Did any members out there experience any hearing changes following Chemo/Radiotherapy?The Doctors kept asking my Husband if he had any hearing loss during & after treatment. On the contrary, his hearing has become almost painfully acute,eg:tearing paper, creaking doors,dishes being taken out of cupboards are just too loud for him.
Original Post
Hearing loss in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma after chemotherapy and radiation.
Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 2003 Apr;19(4):163-9.
Wang LF, Kuo WR, Ho KY, Lee KW, Lin CS.
Department of Otolaryngology, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. lifewang@cc.kmu.edu.tw

In light of the possible adverse effects of radiation on hearing, we conducted a study to evaluate the long-term sensorineural hearing status following radiotherapy (RT) in patients suffering from nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Audiologic examinations were performed at regular intervals before and after RT. We also analyzed the effects of age, chemotherapy, pre-RT hearing status, and post-RT otitis media with effusion (OME) on post-RT hearing change. A total of 150 patients (261 ears) were enrolled in this study and followed up for a mean of 43.8 months. After RT, 8.9-28.8% of ears had at least a 10 dB loss in bone conduction threshold at speech frequency, which was defined as an average of hearing threshold at 0.5 kHz, 1 kHz, and 2 kHz, while the percentage was 18-34.2% at 4 kHz. Patient age was related to these changes at speech frequency, and the presence of post-RT OME was related to significant loss at both speech frequency and 4 kHz. Pre-RT hearing status and chemotherapy did not influence hearing change. To sum up, sensorineural hearing loss began as early as after completion of RT. Early changes may be transient, but the effect of radiation on hearing tended to be chronic and progressive.

Long-Term Sensorineural Hearing Deficit Following Radiotherapy in Patients Suffering from Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma: A Prospective Study
Head Neck 21: 547-553, 1999
Ho W, Wei WI, Kwong DLW, et al (Univ of Hong Kong, China; Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, Regina, Canada)
Radiotherapy is the mainstay treatment for most head and neck cancer. This study has evaluated the effect of radical external radiotherapy on inner ear function in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, sensorineural hearing loss was evident shortly after radiotherapy.

Early changes were reversible but persistent hearing loss was also noted. This article is hence a motivation for the use of conformal radiation treatment for managing nasopharyngeal carcinoma to prevent such hearing loss.

Cancer Treatment May Cause Hearing Problems By Dawn Dorsey

Vanity might cause some 42-year-olds to resent having to wear hearing aids in both ears, but Pamela Avery is so grateful to be able to hear that she’s not bothered by it.

Avery sustained hearing damage in both ears as a result of chemotherapy and radiation for cancer of the nasopharynx, the area behind the nose and above the soft palate.

“It doesn’t bother me to have to wear hearing aids,” says Avery, a Houston optician. “They make it possible for me to work, and my job is what keeps me going.”

While not common, hearing impairment can be a side effect of some chemotherapy drugs or radiation therapy to the brain or head, when treatment involves high doses.

"Most hearing loss is dose-dependent, but it's not universal," says Paul Gidley, M.D., associate professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Head and Neck Surgery. Gidley treats cancers of the ear and lateral skull base and specializes in treating hearing loss caused by cancer or cancer treatment.

Initial tests reveal nothing

Avery's cancer symptoms started about three years ago when she began having headaches. Shortly after that, her right ear began to hurt. She visited a doctor and had a variety of tests, all of which showed nothing amiss.

Then she started having problems swallowing, which led to more tests, including an endoscopy (a procedure using a long, narrow fiber optic cable to view the inside of the body). Her doctor thought she might have acid reflux (a condition in which liquids in the stomach back up into the esophagus), but the treatment for that didn’t help. When Avery began to develop new symptoms, she went to another doctor.

“I was getting worse and started to just fall asleep all the time,” she says. “I was exhausted. I told the doctor, ‘something is happening to me, and I don’t know what it is.’”

Crisis point arrives

However, after a fresh series of tests, the new doctor still could not find the culprit. He drained some fluid from Avery’s ears, and for a while, she felt a little better. But her situation hit a crisis point when she passed out at work one day.

“I had my doctor’s card in my purse, so I told the people at work to call him immediately,” Avery says. “He brought in Dr. Gidley, who did a biopsy and found the cancer. Unfortunately, I had already had it for a year or more by that point.”

Avery was treated with chemotherapy and radiation. The chemotherapy drug that was used, Platinol® (cisplatin), is intense and can have several side effects, she was told. She was supposed to have eight treatments, but she could only complete four because of side effects. She also had 32 rounds of radiation on the right side of her head.

Work provides motivation

It has been three years since Avery finished treatment. In addition to wearing hearing aids, she visits an audiologist (hearing specialist). Treatment and hearing problems have affected her speech, so she works with a speech therapist.

She also is learning to cope with several other side effects, such as dizziness and fatigue, as she rebuilds her life.

“I try to lead a normal life — whatever that is,” she says. “I have a pretty hard time walking and talking, and I’m still working on my speech, but I know if I keep trying it will get better.”

Her work is a big motivating factor. Although she had to miss a year because of treatment, she’s happy to be back.

“I’m never going to give up,” she says. “If I can’t work, I’ll find some kind of volunteer work to do. As long as I can get out of bed, even though it’s hard, I’ll work. I take it one day at a time, and it helps that they’ve been really flexible at my job.”

She counts blessings, not misfortunes

While some people may consider the workaday world a necessary evil, Avery finds it her main source of fun. She says it gives her a great deal of joy.

"In my job, I get to talk to a lot of people,” she says. “Many of my clients ask where I was the year I couldn’t work. When I tell them my story, they say ‘How do you do it? You’re amazing.’ I’m not amazing, but very blessed and very, very grateful.”

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.