A side effect of the drug that can save children from cancer is the loss of hearing.
The drug is called ‘cisplatin’.
It has been revealed by a new study that the vulnerability of young children is high and that the damage to the hearing may start early in the course of the treatment.
Hearing May Be Damaged By Chemo Drug
The researchers said that in order to nip the issue at the roots, the need to screen kids’ hearing during each round of cisplatin treatment was highlighted by the findings.
Bruce Carleton, the senior researcher on the study said that cisplatin is the drug of choice for the treatment of solid tumors in children.
He is also the director of the Pharmaceutical Outcomes Program at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada.
Solid tumors typically arise in organs, as opposed to the blood or lymph system. They form solid masses.
Neuroblastoma, which affects cells in nerves, is a cancer of the brain and spinal cord, and osteosarcoma, is a type of bone cancer.
Cisplatin can be lifesaving for them.
Carleton said that the problem is that about 60% of children develop hearing loss when they are treated with the drug.
Research has shown that platinum, which is contained in cisplatin, is a heavy metal that is often retained in the cochlea. This is the part of the ear that enables a person to hear.
Carleton’s team, in the new study, found that children below the age of 6 were far more likely to develop hearing loss over time, which is induced by cisplatin.
75% of youngsters have hearing loss just 3 years after starting treatment with the drug.
Signs of trouble show up much sooner for many people. The investigators found that just three months after starting treatment, over 1/4th of the participants had hearing problems.
According to a report published in the journal Cancer, contrastingly, only 9% of children over the age of 6 developed hearing issues.
Kristin Knight, an audiologist at Oregon Health and Science University’s Hospital said that for hearing loss prevention and intervention, children, even though they are at a very young age, form an important part of the population.
Knight said that high-frequency hearing is typically affected by cisplatin. She was not involved in the study. She said that it does not really cause full hearing loss, but still poses a major side effect for children.
She added that for social engagement, spoken language development, and understanding, high-frequency speech sounds are critical.
She said that ideally, the hearing of young children should be monitored after each round of treatment.
Dr. Edward Neuwelt, a professor of neurology at OHSU said that reducing the dosage of cisplatin may be an option if hearing loss is detected.
He noted that this is possible only after some damage to hearing has already been done.
Progress toward preventing the loss of hearing is being made by researchers.
On a clinical trial of a medication called sodium thiosulfate, Neuwelt was a senior researcher.
Hearing loss in over 50% of children receiving cisplatin for liver cancer was reduced by the drug.
The FDA is reviewing the drug for approval. Neuwelt said that in addition, several other potential preventive treatments are being studied.
Carleton said that younger children are more vulnerable to hearing loss that is induced by cisplatin as their bodies are smaller and their hearing structures are less mature.
Carleton said that the precise mechanisms are not clear yet and a better understanding could lead to more ways in which children’s ability to hear can be protected during treatment with cisplatin. Knight said that there are various ways to intervene for children who suffer.
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