Original Research

Ototoxicity monitoring in South African cancer facilities: A national survey

Katerina Ehlert, Barbara Heinze, De Wet Swanepoel
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 69, No 1 | a846 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v69i1.846 | © 2022 Katerina Ehlert, Barbara Heinze, De Wet Swanepoel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 July 2021 | Published: 19 January 2022

About the author(s)

Katerina Ehlert, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Faculty of Healthcare Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa
Barbara Heinze, Department Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
De Wet Swanepoel, Department Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: National information regarding ototoxicity monitoring practices are limited for patients undergoing chemotherapy in South Africa.

Objectives: To determine (1) the national status of ototoxicity monitoring implemented in private and public cancer facilities, (2) the knowledge and ototoxicity monitoring approaches implemented, and (3) reported challenges.

Method: A descriptive quantitative survey was conducted in public and private oncology units and audiology referral clinics. Private (60%) and public (43%) oncology units that provide platinum-based chemotherapy in South Africa and audiology referral units (54%) were: (1) surveyed telephonically to determine if ototoxicity monitoring takes place; and (2) a self-administered survey was sent to qualifying oncology units and audiology referral clinics.

Results: All public oncology units reported that ototoxicity monitoring only occurs on referral and is not standard practice. All private oncology units indicated that monitoring is on a patient self-referral basis when symptoms occur. Poor awareness of ototoxicity monitoring best practice guidelines was reported by all oncology units and 14% of audiology referral clinics. Audiology referral clinics reported adequate knowledge of ototoxicity protocols although they are not widely used with only 43% following best practice guidelines. The most prominent challenges reported by participants was referral system (67% oncology units; 57% audiology referral clinics), environmental noise (83% oncology units; 86% audiology referral clinics) and the compromised status of cancer patients (67% oncology units; 57% audiology referral clinics).

Conclusion: Ototoxicity monitoring is not routinely implemented across oncology units in South Africa. Multidisciplinary teamwork and a simplified national ototoxicity monitoring protocol may improve hearing outcomes for patients.


Keywords

ototoxicity; ototoxicity monitoring; ototoxicity monitoring protocols; cancer; oncology; hearing loss; chemotherapy; platinum-based compounds

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