Cancer Treatment and Hearing Loss

Some people who are diagnosed with cancer suffer from ​hearing loss as a result of their cancer spreading to other organs and tissues, but most hearing loss from cancer is the result of the cancer treatment.

Many drugs used to treat cancer are considered ototoxic medications, which means that they could potentially damage the nerve supply to the ear, or the ear itself. Damage to either of these could result in hearing loss.

Radiation Therapy Can Cause Hearing Loss

Radiation therapy – a common treatment for cancer patients – can also cause hearing loss. Radiation around the head and neck can result in inflammation of the outer ear, fluid buildup in the middle ear, or stiffening of the eardrum or bones in the middle ear, which can all result in hearing loss.

Managing Hearing Loss During Cancer Treatment

While many people who have been diagnosed with cancer are focused mainly on their treatment, hearing loss can be a devastating and permanent side effect of their disease, or its treatment. And it is something that should be considered, and if possible, managed, while their cancer treatment is underway.

Measure Hearing Before, During and After Cancer Treatment

Doctors who specialize in treating patients with cancer follow particular protocols to limit damage to the ears during cancer care. It is imperative to receive hearing evaluations before, during and after cancer treatments, and any hearing impairment should be dealt with immediately in consultation with an ​experienced audiologist.

Work With an Experienced Audiologist

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a terrifying ordeal, and having to deal with subsequent hearing loss from cancer treatment can make an already difficult situation that much harder. But with close monitoring from your oncologist, and working closely with an experienced audiologist, your rehabilitation plan can be customized to minimize the impact on your hearing.

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Dr. Ana Anzola, CCC-A, FAAA, ABA Principal

Dr. Anzola received her Doctorate degree in Audiology (AuD) from the Arizona School of Health Sciences, and her Master’s Degree in Audiology and her Bachelor's Degree in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology from Towson University. She has been a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) since 1995, board-certified by the American Board of Audiology (ABA), and certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).