New publication: Severity of hearing loss after platinum chemotherapy in childhood cancer survivors

Sven Strebel

What was the aim of our study?

When a child has to be treated with platinum chemotherapy due to cancer, hearing can be damaged. In our study, we wanted to find out how many childhood cancer survivors experienced hearing loss after completing platinum chemotherapy and how severe this hearing loss was. In addition, we looked at what factors increase the risk of hearing loss.

Why is this important?
Our hearing allows us to have a conversation with friends, learn new languages, and enjoy our favorite music. If you don’t hear well, you miss a lot. This is especially true for young people. Fortunately, there are ways in medicine to help people with hearing loss. That’s why hearing tests are performed regularly during and after platinum chemotherapy. Not everyone suffers hearing loss as a result of the therapy. Today, we do not yet know exactly how many are affected and who is at increased risk.

What exactly did we do in our study?
The Children’s Cancer Registry has information on which children’s cancer patients in Switzerland have been treated with platinum chemotherapy. However, detailed information on cancer treatment or results of hearing tests are not available in the pediatric cancer registry. Therefore, we collected more detailed information on treatment and all available hearing tests from the different children’s hospitals. We evaluated the last hearing test after completion of platinum chemotherapy.

What did we find and how do we classify it?
One in four children who had platinum chemotherapy had severe hearing loss. These children may then need a hearing aid. Childhood cancer survivors who were treated with high-dose platinum chemotherapy and additional radiation to the head were particularly vulnerable. Children who received treatment before age 5 were also at increased risk. Today, fewer patients experience hearing loss than 30 years ago. During this time, therapies have become less invasive. Nevertheless, regular hearing tests remain important during and even after cancer treatment. Early detection and treatment of hearing loss can help to improve quality of life in the long term and sustainably.

Here is our whole study: link