New drug shown to halve hearing loss in children following cancer treatment

Research

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Use of the drug sodium thiosulfate after chemotherapy reduces hearing loss in children treated for liver cancer, according to the results of a study published in late June in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The therapeutic efficacy of cisplatin is well established but this chemotherapy regimen is associated with hearing loss as an adverse effect in up to 60% of cases. Cancer Research UK funded the SIOPEL-6 clinical trial and evaluated the effect of administering sodium thiosulfate (STS) after chemotherapy in children treated for hepatoblastoma. In all, 109 children took part in the trial.

The participants has either cisplatin alone or cisplatin followed by STS 6 hours later. Results showed that the risk of hearing loss was reduced by nearly 50% with this treatment: 63% of children in the cisplatin alone group developed some degree of hearing loss, while only 33% had this outcome in the STS group. The authors consider this finding a major step forward in minimizing the number of children left with this long-term adverse effect after cancer treatment.

“This treatment combination could help ensure that parents aren’t faced with an upsetting scenario where successful cancer treatment comes at the cost of their child’s hearing,” said Dr Penelope Brock, study lead and pediatric consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, England.

Source: Cancer Research UK; Science Daily

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