Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Common in Cancer Survivors

A recent study indicates that hearing loss and tinnitus are prevalent among cancer survivors. The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that nearly half of cancer survivors had some degree of hearing loss, and about a third had tinnitus. The participants comprised 273 cancer survivors who were 61 years old on average and had completed cancer treatment about five years prior. The researchers found that more than half the survivors in their study who had been treated with chemotherapy experienced significant hearing problems. Previously, it was unknown how frequently survivors of breast, gastrointestinal, gynecologic or lung cancer suffered clinically meaningful levels of hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ear).

The study also revealed that hearing loss associated with administering platinum drugs was reported in adults with testicular, head, and neck cancer. However, this study is the first to demonstrate that hearing loss and tinnitus are highly prevalent problems in survivors of the four most common types of cancer.

The negative impact that hearing loss and tinnitus can have on mood and social interactions is reflected in the study participants’ reports. Participants with hearing loss reported moderate to severe levels of impairment with routine activity, such as listening to television or radio, talking with family members and friends, or conversing in restaurants. Those with tinnitus reported that this problem interfered with their ability to concentrate or relax, their mood and enjoyment of life, and their sleep

In light of these findings, it’s evident that the repercussions of cancer treatments may cause side effects that affect an individual’s hearing health. The high prevalence of hearing loss and tinnitus among cancer survivors underscores the need for comprehensive post-treatment assessments and interventions. Addressing these issues is not just a matter of improving hearing health, but of enhancing the overall quality of life for survivors. Medical practitioners, caregivers, and support networks should be well-informed about these potential challenges and be prepared to offer guidance and resources.