chemotherapy drugs and syringe

Exploring the Link Between Cancer Drugs and Hearing Loss

Cancer drugs have long been associated with hearing loss. However, the question has always been to what degree do these drugs affect your hearing?

Now for the first time Indiana University has conducted studies on the causal relationship between chemotherapy drugs and hearing loss. Ph.D, and co-author of the study Robert Frisina, a professor in the department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, has set out on this journey to point out that cancer survivors and hearing loss does in fact have a strong correlation.

The study has found that through their research of 488 subjects going through cancer treatment were all give the cisplatin. Cisplatin is the main compound that is found in their chemotherapy treatment. Through their research, they found that almost all of them now have some sort of hearing loss and that 40% of them now have tinnitus, better known as ringing of the ears.

During the study they were able to find the correlation between chemotherapy treatment levels and hearing loss, from the text, “100 mg/m2 increase in cumulative dose of cisplatin, there was a 3.2 decibel (dB) impairment”. This is stating that as the chemotherapy levels are increased in your treatments that there is a strong correlation in the dB of which your ears can hear will go down.

Although the study mainly focused on Cisplatin, they also found strong correlations between other chemotherapy drugs, like Mechlorethamine and other platinum-based drugs like Carboplatin, which can be the main compounds in chemotherapy, that they also lead to some type of hearing loss.

“We are the first to show definitively that in a significant number of the cancer survivors, they have hearing loss above and beyond age-related hearing loss. They were of different ages –20s to 60s — so this was a new analysis.”

-Ph.d Robert Frisina

Besides cancer drugs, did you know there are over 450 other prescribed and over the counter drugs, classified as an ototoxic drug? Ototoxic drugs is a classification for drugs that have a toxic or negative effect on the ear or its nerve supply. Commonly used drugs that fall into this category are, Anti-Anxiety Medications, Blood Pressure Controlling Medications, Allergy Medications, and Water/Diuretics pills.

We’ve linked the studies below if you’re interested in learning more.

New Study Looks at Hearing Loss in Cancer Survivors

Indiana University Study