A study has found that a new drug sodium thiosulphate (STS) can reduce hearing loss in children treated for hepatoblastoma, a childhood liver cancer.
The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article stated that a Cancer Research UK-funded SIOPEL-6 clinical trial results have shown that administering STS following a specific chemotherapy called cisplatin on hepatoblastoma patients decreases hearing loss by nearly 50%.
Led by researchers of Great Ormond Street Hospital, the trials included 109 children.
During the trials, a group of patients received cisplatin alone and another section had cisplatin followed by STS after six hours.
Around 63% of the children who were given only cisplatin suffered a degree of hearing loss, while it reduced 33% for the children treated with cisplatin and STS, reducing the risk of side-effect by 48%.
Additionally, administration of STS had no difference in overall survival or incidence of cancer reoccurrence.
Great Ormond Street Hospital trial lead and paediatric consultant Dr Penelope Brock said: “For children treated with cisplatin alone, a huge proportion are left with permanent hearing loss, which can be utterly debilitating. Even mild hearing loss can severely impact a child’s future development.
“Key consonants are heard at high frequencies like ‘s,’ ‘h,’ and ‘f’, and their loss can be particularly difficult for children who haven’t yet developed speech.
“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.”
Cisplatin has been effective in treating multiple cancers such as hepatoblastoma, improving survival significantly.
However, most of the children treated with cisplatin are affected with hearing loss to some extent.