Cancer survivors and hearing loss.

Cancer survivors have a significantly higher prevalence of hearing loss than the general population.

“We expected that cancer survivors would have a higher burden of hearing loss, but we are still surprised to see that 40% of cancer survivors reported troublesome hearing and had audiometry-confirmed speech-frequency hearing loss,” said researcher Qian Wang, assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in the U.S.

“More importantly, we are very surprised to see that by asking two simple questions we were able to accurately identify those who have audiometry-confirmed hearing loss,” she said.

“This could serve as a very effective screening tool for health care providers.”

Cancer survivors have an elevated risk for developing hearing loss due to older age and the late-term effects of previous treatment, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, limited data exist about the prevalence of hearing loss among cancer survivors.

Researchers found that cancer survivors had a higher prevalence of troublesome hearing, tinnitus, speech-frequency hearing loss and high-frequency hearing loss compared with the general population.

“Half of cancer survivors 65 and older report having trouble with their hearing; 63% of cancer survivors were found to have audiometry-confirmed high-frequency hearing loss, which was 1.74 times higher than the general population,” Wang said.

“Cancer survivors have a significantly higher prevalence of hearing loss than individuals without a history of cancer.”

“Health care providers, including oncologists, primary care physicians and geriatricians, should raise awareness. By asking two simple questions — troublesome hearing and tinnitus — we can potentially accurately identify those patients who have hearing loss and provide them early referral and intervention.”

For more information: Qian Wang, MD, MPH, can be contacted at