September is Childhood Cancer Month.

Hearing the diagnosis that your child has cancer is brutal, to say the least, and from the outside, it seems that the treatment is worse than the disease. Pediatric oncologists use everything they have in trying to save the child’s life. The spectrum includes chemotherapy, surgery and/or radiation.

It is difficult to watch a child go through chemotherapy. The drugs that kill the cancer comes close to killing the child. The side-effects include neutropenia (reduced white blood cell count) which reduces the child’s ability to ward off infection, peripheral neuropathy which can cause extreme pain and/or loss of feeling and tingling in the fingers and toes, loss of taste buds so that food has no taste and is not desired, and extreme fatigue.

Radiation has its own set of side-effects that include fatigue and skin rashes and burns in the targeted area.

Most if not all of these side-effects will disappear within a few weeks or months after the end of treatment.

One side-effect that might not begin to appear for years after treatment is hearing loss and other listening disorders. Depending upon the chemo agents used and the length of treatment, hearing loss can range from mild to severe.  Radiation, if the tumor is in the head or neck area, can create additional damage to the cilia within the cochlea.

A child with listening problems, be they based on physical, cognitive, or treatment-based reasons, can suffer a lifetime of difficulties. Listening disorders have an impact on learning, communication, school performance, social interaction, and overall quality of life. Listening disorders can lead to academic under-achievement, the inability to create or retain relationships, job issues and more.

Download and read the white paper Collateral Damage: An Overview of Hearing Loss and Listening Disorders in Pediatric Cancer Treatment. Click here to download the paper: Collateral Damage