ObjectivesThis study analyzed the long-term hearing loss after treatment of primary nasopharyngeal carcinoma to elucidate its causal factors.
MethodsNinety-two nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients were treated with radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy. Pure tone audiometry was performed before the therapy and annually up to 9 years after completing treatment. The hearing thresholds were corrected for age-related deterioration and compared to the results without adjusting for age.
ResultsThe mean air and bone conduction threshold with and without correction for age-related deterioration differed significantly 2-9 years after completing radiotherapy (p < 0.05). The audiometry results with age correction showed a flattened configuration compared to the results without age correction. The total radiation dose and radiation modality showed a causal relationship with a greater incidence of hearing loss after therapy (p < 0.05). There was more deterioration in the air and bone hearing thresholds with conformal radiotherapy than intensity-modulated radiotherapy (p < 0.001). A radiation dose >72?cGy resulted in more severe hearing loss than <72?cGy (p < 0.05).
ConclusionHearing loss after completing therapy should be corrected for age-related hearing deterioration to reveal the true extent to which the loss is a therapeutic complication. Both the radiation modality used and the dose were significantly associated with hearing loss.