Hearing tests and cancer treatment

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Hearing tests (audiograms) measure how well you can hear sounds at different volumes. Learn why you may need a hearing test and how a hearting test is done.

Key points

  • A hearing test, or audiogram, measures how well you can hear different sounds.
  • Some types of medications or treatments can affect your hearing, so you may need several hearing tests to determine if your hearing has changed.
  • During the test you will hear different sounds at different volumes.

What is a hearing test?

A hearing test (audiogram) measures how well you can hear certain sounds (for example high pitched sounds or low pitched sounds) at different volumes.

Why do I need a hearing test?

Some types of cancer medications or radiation can affect your hearing. If you will be having any of these types of treatment, you will have a hearing test before, during and after your treatment. The tests help your health-care team monitor if and how your hearing is changing.

How is a hearing test done?

The hearing test will be done by an audiologist (hearing specialist). The test is done in a very quiet or soundproof room.

First, the audiologist will check your ears for wax and then they will give you a set of headphones to wear. Through the headphones you will hear sounds (tones) at different volumes. You will show the audiologist you hear the sound by raising your hand. The tones will get softer until you cannot hear them anymore. They might test each ear one at a time or they might switch back and forth.

You may also have the test wearing a headband with plastic squares that sit behind your ears instead of the headphones. These squares will vibrate and cause you to hear sound. Again, you will raise your hand to show the audiologist when you hear something.

A hearing test usually takes about an hour.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019