Survivors of adult-onset cancer who were treated with cisplatin chemotherapy should undergo routine hearing exams, according to an article published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1

Cisplatin, a platinum-containing anti-cancer chemotherapy, is commonly used, but frequently causes damage to the auditory system. Researchers evaluated several measures of auditory function of 488 germ cell tumor survivors.

An increase of drug dose was positively correlated with hearing loss at frequencies 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 kHz; dose increases at increments of 100 mg/m2 were linked to a 3.2 decibel impairment, age-adjusted, in overall hearing threshold of the frequencies tested. Doses greater than 300 mg/m2 were linked to greater hearing loss. Profound hearing loss was observed in 18% of patients; hypertension was also linked to overall hearing threshold of tested frequencies.

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The authors concluded that patients diagnosed with cancer as adults who were treated with cisplatin should have routine auditory exams, including tests for tinnitus. Hypertension control and avoidance of ear-damaging noises and drugs are also recommended. Definitions for hearing loss severity were given by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.


  1. Frisina RD, Wheeler HE, Fossa SD, Kerns SL, Fung C, Sesso HD, et al. Comprehensive audiometric analysis of hearing impairment and tinnitus after cisplatin-based chemotherapy in survivors of adult-onset cancer [published online ahead of print June 27, 2016]. J Clin Oncol. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.66.8822.