October is observed as Breast Cancer Awareness month to educate and raise awareness about the disease affecting 1 in 8 US women. Awareness and early detection are key to survival for Breast Cancer patients, but there are various treatment options as well. Treatments have contributed to the over 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., however for some, treatments can come with side effects or other complications such as hearing loss.
While cancer patients may not immediately experience or associate hearing loss with their cancer treatments, doctors have confirmed that treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can lead to hearing problems. About 50% of chemotherapy patients are treated with drugs that include platinum, which may damage fine nerve endings inside the ears causing tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and/or other types of hearing loss. According to Dr. Julian Schink, Chief of Gynecologic Oncology at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, nearly 1 in 5 patients treated with Carboplatin, a chemotherapy medication commonly used for breast cancer patients, is affected by hearing loss.
Like chemotherapy, radiation therapy damages cancer cells but can also damage healthy cells. According to Curesearch, outer and inner ear inflammation and earwax fluid buildup are common side effects for radiation therapy. It can also cause the bones in the ear to stiffen. These side effects can all result in hearing loss.
Doctors and scientists are aware of the negative effects some cancer treatments have on patient hearing and are paying closer attention to these effects. Aside of raising patient awareness on the side effects of these medications and monitoring side effects more closely, strides have also been made in providing solutions. For example, there are now medications that help to prevent ototoxic hearing loss. For patients who are already experiencing hearing loss tied to their treatments, hearing aids are a great solution. As with all types of hearing loss, it is important to have your hearing tested by an audiologist to find the best solution for your type of hearing loss.
If you’re experiencing hearing loss or have questions about hearing aids and hearing loss, please contact New Generation Hearing Centers for a free consultation.