High prevalence of cisplatin-induced ototoxicity in Cape Town, South Africa

  • H Whitehorn
  • M Sibanda
  • M Lacerda
  • T Spracklen
  • L Ramma
  • S Dalvie
  • R Ramesar


Background. Cisplatin is administered as the first-line treatment of soft-tissue cancers. It has a reported cure rate of up to 85%, but is associated with a high incidence of ototoxicity, characterised by irreversible bilateral hearing loss and affecting 23 - 50% of adults who receive the drug.
Objectives. To determine the incidence of cisplatin-induced ototoxicity at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH), Cape Town, South Africa.
Methods. A retrospective cross-sectional study of cisplatin-receiving cancer patients attending GSH between January 2006 and August 2011.
Results. A total of 377 patients were recorded as receiving cisplatin therapy during the study period. A 300% increase in new cisplatin-receiving patients receiving audiological monitoring was observed between 2006 and 2010. However, only patients with all clinical data as well as baseline and follow-up audiometric analyses were investigated. One hundred and seven such patients were identified, 55.1% of whom developed cisplatininduced ototoxicity while receiving high-dose (≥60 mg/m2) cisplatin treatment. Higher cumulative cisplatin dosages were associated with development of significant hearing loss (p=0.027). The odds of developing cisplatin-induced hearing loss were elevated for patients with head and neck tumours and lymphoma (p=0.0465 and p=0.0563, respectively) and were significantly lower for those with reproductive cancers (p=0.0371).
Conclusion. Comprehensive audiological monitoring should be available for every patient during cisplatin treatment to minimise the development of disabling hearing loss.

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eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135