Baseline audiological profiling of South African females with cervical cancer : an important attribute for assessing cisplatin-associated ototoxicity

Paken, Jessica ; Govender, Cyril D. ; Pillay, Mershen ; Ayele, Birhanu T. ; Sewram, Vikash (2021-04-20)

CITATION: Cervical cancer, J., et al. 2021. Baseline audiological profiling of South African females with cervical cancer : an important attribute for assessing cisplatin-associated ototoxicity. BMC Women’s Health, 21:164, doi:10.1186/s12905-021-01313-5.

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Background: Cisplatin is a popular antineoplastic agent used to treat cervical cancer in women from low and middle-income countries. Cisplatin treatment is associated with ototoxicity, often resulting in hearing loss. In light of this, it is crucial to conduct baseline audiological assessments prior to treatment initiation in order to evaluate the extent of cisplatin-associated-ototoxicity. Additionally, the identification of inherent risk factors and hearing patterns in specific patient cohorts is needed, especially in South Africa, a middle-income country characterized by the quadruple burden of disease (Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Tuberculosis (TB), Diabetes and Hypertension). Methods: This study aimed to describe a profile of risk factors and hearing in a cohort of females with cervical cancer before cisplatin treatment commenced. A descriptive study design that included 82 cervical cancer patients, who underwent audiological evaluation prescribed for ototoxicity monitoring was conducted. Results: All participants (n = 82) presented with risk factors (diabetes, hypertension, HIV, and antiretroviral therapy) for cisplatin ototoxicity and/or pre-existing sensorineural hearing loss. High-frequency tinnitus was the most common otological symptom experienced by 25 (31%) participants. Fifty-nine (72%) participants presented with normal hearing, twenty-two (27%) with a sensorineural hearing loss, and 36% were diagnosed with mild hearing loss. Abnormal Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions (DPOAE) findings were obtained bilaterally in two participants (2.4%), in the right ear only of another two (2.4%) participants and the left ear of three participants (3.7%). Most participants (94%) had excellent word recognition scores, demonstrating an excellent ability to recognize words within normal conversational levels under optimal listening conditions. Age was significantly associated with hearing loss at all thresholds. Among the co-morbidities, an HIV positive status significantly triggered hearing loss, especially at higher frequencies. Conclusion: This study demonstrated that South African females with cervical cancer present with various co-morbidities, which may predispose them to develop cisplatin-associated -ototoxic hearing loss. Identification of these comorbidities and hearing loss is essential for the accurate monitoring of cisplatin toxicities. Appropriate management of these patients is pivotal to reduce the adverse effects that hearing impairment can have on an individual’s quality of life and to facilitate informed decision-making regarding the commencement of cisplatin chemotherapy.

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