Hearing impairment after platinum-based chemotherapy in childhood

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2011 Apr;56(4):631-7. doi: 10.1002/pbc.22876. Epub 2010 Dec 15.


Background: Chemotherapy is used in the treatment of children and adolescents with malignant diseases. Some of the chemotherapeutic agents are highly toxic and may cause a number of side effects. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the long-term effects on hearing in cancer survivors who had received platinum-based chemotherapy in childhood or adolescence.

Procedure: Medical records of 297 patients, who had received treatment for cancer at the Children's Hospital, Landspitali University Hospital in Iceland between 1981 and 2006, were retrospectively reviewed. Fifteen subjects fulfilled the eligibility criteria for the study and underwent an extended audiometric evaluation.

Results: The results showed that three of the subjects had a high frequency hearing loss. In one subject, we observed a hearing recovery just after the completion of chemotherapy, but the hearing deteriorated again some years later. Nine of the 15 subjects (60%) had tinnitus after the cancer treatment. An evaluation of subjective hearing disability and handicap (The Hearing Measurements Scale) revealed that some subjects had great difficulties with hearing in certain situations. The Hearing Measurement Scale showed that the pure-tone audiogram findings were only partly associated with the apparent hearing difficulties.

Conclusion: Regular follow-up hearing examinations, which include both pure-tone audiogram investigations and subjective hearing disability assessments, should be performed during and after chemotherapy to identify subjects who require particular attention. This will ensure that hearing impaired individuals are provided with the most suitable listening devices, to promote good speech and social development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Impedance Tests
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Audiometry, Speech
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Carboplatin / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cisplatin / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss / chemically induced*
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Tinnitus / chemically induced*
  • Tinnitus / diagnosis
  • Young Adult


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Carboplatin
  • Cisplatin