|Year : 2013 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 136-139
The study of auditory effects after concomitant radiotherapy and chemotherapy in patients with head and neck cancer
Harish Chander Goel, Poonam Laad, Archan Naik
Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Goa Medical College, Bambolim, Goa, India
|Date of Web Publication||2-Sep-2013|
Harish Chander Goel
Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Goa Medical College, Bambolim, Goa - 403 202
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Aims and Objectives: The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence and patterns of hearing loss after concomitant radiochemotherapy in patients enrolled in a larynx preservation protocol. Materials and Methods: The study comprised of audiological evaluation of 30 patients prior to and at 1, 3, and 6 months after treatment using pure tone audiometry and impedance audiometry. Results: At the end of 6 months, 43.33% suffered sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), 8.33% conductive hearing loss, 16.67% mixed hearing loss, and 6.67% showed improvement in hearing. Discussion: The possible mechanism for hearing loss are discussed and compared with the result of such studies in literature. Conclusion: There exist a small but definite potential risk of hearing loss after concomitant radiotherapy and chemotherapy in patients with head and neck cancer.
Keywords: Audiological, Audiometry, Concomitant radiochemotherapy, Head and neck cancer, Sensorineural
|How to cite this article:|
Goel HC, Laad P, Naik A. The study of auditory effects after concomitant radiotherapy and chemotherapy in patients with head and neck cancer. Indian J Otol 2013;19:136-9
|How to cite this URL:|
Goel HC, Laad P, Naik A. The study of auditory effects after concomitant radiotherapy and chemotherapy in patients with head and neck cancer. Indian J Otol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2020 Aug 3];19:136-9. Available from: http://www.indianjotol.org/text.asp?2013/19/3/136/117472
| Introduction|| |
The worldwide incidence of head and neck cancers exceeds half a million cases and is ranked fifth most common malignancy in the world and the commonest malignancy in India. Radiotherapy is a major treatment modality for head and neck cancers and is used either exclusively or combined with surgery or chemotherapy. The treatment of these locally advanced head and neck cancers is a challenge in view of the limited response to radiation monotherapy in case of inoperable disease and the need to preserve vital functions in case of operable lesions. A combination of radiotherapy and concomitant chemotherapy (preferably cisplatin-based) shows improved response rates and allows for organ preservation. The temporal bone is frequently involved in the radiation field of head and neck cancers. Long-term survivors of cancers of the head and neck can experience sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) induced by radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of both.
Borsanyi et al.,  and Leach  demonstrated that SNHL occurs following irradiation due to direct effect of radiation on post mitotic cells of sensory epithelium and altered vascular physiology interfering with cochlear supply of oxygen and metabolites. Conductive hearing loss was attributed to mucosal vascular dilatation and Eustachian tube More Details edema with subsequent middle ear effusion and hemorrhage. Ossicular necrosis was also found to be a cause of conductive hearing loss secondary to radiotherapy.
In recent years, chemotherapy has increasingly been used in combination with radiotherapy for treatment of head and neck cancers. Cisplatin, 5-fluorouracil, paclitaxel, bleomycin, etc., are commonly used drugs. SNHL is a known complication of cisplatin treatment. ,, Thus, concurrent treatment with cisplatin with radiotherapy may add to the radiation induced SNHL. The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence and patterns of hearing loss after concomitant radiochemotherapy in head and neck cancers.
| Materials and Methods|| |
The present study comprised of audiological evaluation of 30 patients who presented in the Department of Ear, Nose, and Throat of our hospital which is a tertiary care hospital with advanced head and neck malignancy and were planned to treat with radiochemotherapy. Prior to treatment a detailed otological examination was done in each patient along with Head and Neck examination and investigations were carried out. Patients with history of hearing loss or ear diseases were excluded from the study. The study consisted of 25 males and five females with ages ranging from 26 years to 69 years. The site of lesion in relation to number of patients studied is shown in [Table 1].
|Table 1: Site of the lesion in relation to the number of patients studied|
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These patients were treated with cobalt-60 teletherapy unit and received doses between 60-65 Gy in 30-33 fractions over 6-6.5 weeks. They also received cisplatin 20 mg/m 2 concurrent with radiotherapy once weekly for 6 weeks.
Pure tone audiograms (PTA) were obtained before treatment to assess individual baseline hearing thresholds. The hearing assessment included audiologic history, air and bone conduction threshold, and impedance audiometry. Testing was performed in a sound treated audiometric testing suite. Masking was used, if indicated. Bone and air conduction thresholds (250-4,000 and 250-8,000 Hz; respectively) were obtained using a pure tone audiometer (Arphi Diagnostic 2001 model). Impedance audiometry (Maico MI 34) was performed in patients showing conductive hearing loss. Posttreatment audiograms were obtained at various intervals 1, 3, and 6 months after completion of radiochemotherapy. Patients with audiograms less than 6 months after completion of radiochemotherapy were excluded.
Ototoxicity was measured using intrasubject audiogram comparisons. Each patient served as his/her control with the pretreatment audiogram serving as the baseline. Hearing threshold change was determined relative to each patient's baseline.
| Results|| |
Results of type of hearing loss as analyzed at 6 months posttreatment are as shown in [Table 2].
|Table 2: Audiometric results 6 months after concomitant radiochemotherapy|
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Results of degree of hearing loss at 1, 3, and 6 months after treatment are as shown in [Table 3].
Impedance audiometry showed altered tympanogram type B/C in five patients (16.67%) and acoustic reflexes were absent in 2 patients (6.67%).
The frequency range, which showed maximum hearing loss was between 4,000 and 8,000 Hz. Maximum loss occurred at 8,000 Hz in almost 35 ears (75%). Least affected frequency was 2,000 Hz in 23 ears (38.33%).
| Discussion|| |
As combined modality therapy becomes the standard of care in the treatment of many head and neck cancers, there are increasing concerns of ototoxicity, as cisplatin and radiation are known to cause hearing loss independently.
Irreversible hearing loss as a consequence of cisplatin administration has been closely investigated, with numerous causative factors identified, including: The cumulative dose of cisplatin received, mode of drug administration, concurrent use of aminoglycosides and diuretics, and renal dysfunction.
Whereas; the precise mechanism of radiation-induced hearing loss is obscure, studies of irradiated animal cochleae have also shown ultrastructural changes in the outer hair cells (OHCs) and stria vascularis of the basal turn. 
Whereas; many have focused on the individual toxicities of radiation and cisplatin on the auditory apparatus, few clinical studies have evaluated the synergistic ototoxic effects of radiation and cisplatin chemotherapy. Some have demonstrated that combined modality protocols with cochleotoxic compounds such as cisplatin may increase the detrimental effects of radiation on the inner ear, ,,,,, with SNHL both immediate and delayed. , In examining the results, it is thus important to differentiate between radiation- and cisplatin-induced ototoxicity.
Typically, cisplatin ototoxicity occurs acutely, with effects seen as early as 3-4 days after administration. Audiologic threshold shifts are greatest initially in the high frequencies, with threshold changes extending to lower frequencies as the duration of cisplatin administration lengthen. The audiometric abnormalities are typically bilateral, irreversible, and progressive. As the cumulative dose of cisplatin reaches 200 mg/m 2 , significant hearing loss begins to occur in the range of 6,000-8,000 Hz and the 2,000-4,000 Hz range also appears susceptible to changes. ,, In our series, patients received a cumulative cisplatin dose of 120 mg/m 2 .
Radiation-induced ototoxicity, meanwhile, is typically evident 6-12 months after completion of radiotherapy. ,, Predisposing factors include older age and coexisting otitis media. ,, Grau et al.,  and Chen et al.,  suggested cochlea tolerance doses in human patients of 50 and 60 Gy, respectively, showing significant increase of severe SNHL in patients receiving greater than the reported thresholds. Recently, Honoré et al.,  and Pan et al.,  showed increased risk of SNHL with increased patient age and decreased pretherapeutic hearing level as well. Conversely, Liberman et al.,  concluded that SNHL was not associated with total radiation dose or with dose to the ear region; the study was, however, limited by size (11 patients) and follow-up (audiograms range, 5-10 months). It is important to note that these observations were made in patients receiving radiation only and no chemotherapy.
In the study by Pan et al.,  patients with various head and neck tumors were treated with radiotherapy alone; with ipsilateral mean cochlear doses ranging from 14.1-68.8 Gy and contralateral doses ranging from 0.4-31.3 Gy. An increase in the mean radiation dose to the inner ear was associated with increased hearing loss.
We have observed that average hearing loss ranged between 5-15 dB and frequency range between 4,000-8,000 Hz was maximally affected. SNHL occurred in 43.33% of patients, 16.67% had mixed hearing loss, and 8.33% had conductive hearing loss at 6 months after treatment. Borsanyi et al.,  reported that 4,000 Hz showed greatest hearing loss and least affected frequency was 2,000 Hz. Novotony  also observed 8.4 dB loss localized in 4,000-8,000 Hz. Kwong et al.,  in their study of hearing loss in patients treated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma with radiotherapy alone and with radiotherapy and cisplatin together reported SNHL for higher frequency in 43.1 and 54.8% patients, respectively.
In our study, we had five patients with conductive hearing loss. Postirradiation secretory otitis media is considered a complication of radiotherapy arising from Eustachian tube dysfunction, accounting for conductive hearing loss. ,, Two patients, who were having mild conductive deafness at the start of radiochemotherapy, had improvement in their hearing which we are unable to explain. Duration of our study was limited to 6 months, studies with longer follow-ups and with more number of patients are recommended to get clearer picture.
| Conclusion|| |
The prevalence of hearing loss after radiochemotherapy for head and neck cancers is high; but, is mild and asymptomatic and severe hearing loss is gradual over years. Doctors and patients are less attentive to this ailment as it does not affect survival. Hearing loss is a small price to pay for cure of a malignant disease; but for patients with preexisting hearing loss, further loss can cause impairment in their daily functioning. Each patient undergoing concurrent radiochemotherapy should be counseled for the possibility of hearing loss or its deterioration.
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[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]