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The Effect of Some Chemotherapy on Hearing


As a doctor in the 21st century, you most likely have patients who are battling cancer; a number of them are likely to have been given platinum-based chemotherapy, such as cisplatin or carboplatin. The very likely were given these treatments without giving much consideration to their side effects regarding hearing. Such treatments have been linked to permanent hearing loss in an estimated two-thirds of cancer survivors who received such treatments.

According to one expert, the treatments begin by weakening high-frequency hearing; as the treatments continue, lower frequencies are lost. Patients receiving platinum-based chemotherapy must have their hearing monitored during treatment. In at least some cases, when hearing loss is detected, the patient’s oncologist can adjust the patient’s regimen to lessen the likelihood of further damage.

Audiologists recommend that, when a patient is prescribed a platinum-based chemotherapy regimen, that he or she have a baseline hearing test, so their hearing can be retested during treatment, watching out for changes. Should hearing loss continue to develop, there are many things an audiologist can do to help a patient cope: solutions range from hearing aids, to assistive hearing devices, to lip reading techniques.

There are other forms of help in the way from the pharmaceutical industry. Sensorian is working in SENS-401, a drug that has shown promise in preventing cisplatin-related hearing loss in rats. Other drugs in development are Pedmark by Fennec Pharmaceuticals and ORC-13661 from Oricula Therapeutics.

But until a pharmaceutical option is available, referring chemotherapy patients for regular hearing assessments remains one of the most important things you can do to help them through the chemotherapy experience.


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