Blood cancer, also known as hematologic cancer, affects the production and function of blood cells. While blood cancer itself may not directly impact hearing, certain factors related to the disease or its treatment can affect a patient’s hearing. Here’s what patients with blood cancer need to know about hearing-related concerns:

  1. Chemotherapy and Hearing Loss: Some chemotherapy drugs used to treat blood cancer, especially platinum-based drugs and certain high-dose regimens, can damage the inner ear and result in hearing loss. This condition is known as ototoxicity. Not everyone experiences hearing loss, and the severity can vary. Discuss potential side effects with your healthcare team and ask about strategies to monitor and minimize hearing issues during treatment.
  2. Radiation Therapy: Radiation treatment, which may be used to target cancer cells in various parts of the body, can have side effects on the head and neck region. In some cases, radiation near the ears or brain can cause damage to the ear structures, leading to hearing loss or other auditory problems. Consult your medical team about any potential risks or protective measures for the ears if radiation therapy is part of your treatment plan.
  3. Infections: Blood cancer patients may have a weakened immune system due to the disease itself or the effects of treatment, making them more susceptible to infections. Certain infections, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV) or fungal infections, can affect the ears and cause hearing difficulties. It is important to stay vigilant, promptly report any symptoms of infection, and seek appropriate medical care.
  4. Tinnitus: Tinnitus, a condition characterized by a ringing, buzzing, or hissing sound in the ears, can occur in some individuals with blood cancer. While the exact cause is not always clear, it can be related to changes in blood flow, medication side effects, or emotional stress. Inform your healthcare team if you experience tinnitus, as they may explore ways to manage this symptom.
  5. Treatment and Hearing Preservation: If hearing preservation is a concern for you, discuss it with your medical team before starting treatment. They may consider adjusting the dosage or type of chemotherapy drugs or radiation therapy to minimize potential impacts on hearing, if possible.
  6. Regular Monitoring: Regular hearing evaluations with an audiologist can help detect any changes in hearing function. These evaluations may include pure-tone audiometry, speech audiometry, or other specialized tests. Be proactive in reporting any changes in your hearing to your healthcare team, even if you’re not currently experiencing any problems.

Remember, each person’s experience with blood cancer and its impact on hearing can differ. It is essential to maintain open communication with your medical team, discuss potential risks and interventions, and seek appropriate support and management to address any hearing concerns throughout your journey.

By Sue