Ototoxicity monitoring in South African cancer facilities: A national survey

Katerina Ehlert*, Barbara Heinze, De Wet Swanepoel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera846
JournalSouth African Journal of Communication Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hearing loss
  • Oncology
  • Ototoxicity
  • Ototoxicity monitoring
  • Ototoxicity monitoring protocols
  • Platinum-based compounds


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