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Hearing loss common following radiation therapy for head and neck cancer
Date:11/15/2010

Patients who undergo radiation therapy for head and neck cancer appear more likely to experience hearing loss and to be more disabled by its effects than those who do not receive such treatment, according to a report in the November issue of Archives of OtolaryngologyHead & Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer worldwide, according to background information in the article. Treatment methods include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, either alone or in combination. Choice of treatment depends on factors such as size and location of tumor, disease stage, the patient's condition and whether the cancer can be cured. Any of these treatment methods may affect the auditory system and cause temporary or permanent hearing loss.

Radiation therapy is increasingly being used on head and neck tumors, and close to 100 percent of the radiation delivered may reach the structures of the auditory system, the authors note. Christiane Schultz, M.S., of Hospital do Cancer A.C. Camargo, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and colleagues studied 282 individuals, including 141 who had undergone radiation therapy for head and neck tumors and 141 controls who had never undergone a treatment that placed their hearing at risk. All participants underwent hearing evaluations and completed questionnaires regarding how any hearing loss they had experienced was affecting their lives.

Hearing loss was detected in 102 (72.3 percent) of the participants who were exposed to radiation therapy and 69 (48.9 percent) of those in the control group. Hearing loss was mostly sensorineural (resulting from disorders or damage involving the nerves or the inner ear) as opposed to conductive (resulting from interference in sound transmission, usually involving the outer or middle ear). Severe or profound hearing loss occurred in 6.4 percent of right ears and 8.5 percent of left ears in the radiation-treated group
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Contact: Christiane Schultz, M.S.
chris@hcancer.org.br
JAMA and Archives Journals
Source:Eurekalert

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