The patient with hearing loss and cancer

Dr Mormer talked to Oncology Nurse Advisor about the challenge of managing a patient with both hearing loss and cancer. She said, “On top of the usual communication challenges with older patients who have hearing loss (whether they know it or not) the nursing staff is most likely aware that there are a number of ototoxic medications used with oncology patients, such as cisplatin and carboplatin.”  She advised that patients who incur further hearing loss or new onset hearing losses caused by these drugs are at greater risk of communication breakdowns. This is even more difficult because it is a time when these individuals need so much detailed patient education — when they need counseling as well as support from family and others. Dr Mormer said that in these situations the availability of simple amplifiers can lead to significant improvements in patients’ quality of life. They can make the difference between feeling isolated from lack of communication and being able to fully engage in conversations with providers, caregivers, family, and friends.

The researcher’s findings demonstrated how important it is for people who are seriously ill to be able to hear the comfort offered by loved ones at their side.4 Dr Mormer explained that often, as patients are at the end of life, the family will remove their hearing aids or decline an amplifier. She said, “It would be wonderful for nurses to encourage the use of amplification for as long as it is tolerated. In our hospital the audiology department works hard to make amplifiers available in palliative care. We encourage patients and their families to take them home and to use them.”


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1. Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Age-Related Hearing Loss. Accessed July 6, 2020.

2. Cancer.Net. Aging and Cancer. Reviewed May 2019. Accesssed June 29, 2020.

3. Mormer E, Bubb KJ, Alrawashdeh M, et al. Hearing loss and communication among hospitalized older adults: prevalence and recognition. J Gerontol Nurs. 2020;46(6):34-42.

4. Blundon EG, Gallagher RE, Ward LM. Electrophysiological evidence of preserved hearing at the end of life. Sci Rep.2020;10(1):10336.