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Chemotherapy: What To Do While In Treatment

Safety Precautions To Anticipate Your Healthcare Providers Will Take During Chemotherapy

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© American Cancer Society 2010

Many chemotherapy drugs are considered hazardous to healthy people, so the nurses and doctors who give chemotherapy will take precautions to avoid direct contact with the drugs while giving them to you. 

Chemotherapy drugs are dangerous to others in these ways:

  • They can cause abnormal changes in DNA (They are mutagenic).
  • They may be able to alter development of a fetus or embryo, leading to birth defects (They are teratogenic).
  • They may be able to cause another type of cancer (They are carcinogenic).
  • Some may cause localized skin irritation or damage.

Nurses may wear special gloves, goggles, and gowns when preparing and giving you chemotherapy drugs. Additionally, pharmacists or nurses prepare the drugs in areas with special ventilation systems to avoid spattering and/or inhaling the droplets that can form while mixing.

If you are in the hospital, nurses and health care professionals may use special precautions when they handle your urine and stool for a few days after treatment. This is because your body waste may contain the drugs. If you are receiving chemotherapy drugs at home, you will be given special instructions and precautions to ensure the safety of your caregivers and those living with you.

Special procedures are used for disposal of materials that were used to mix and give the drugs. There are separate plastic containers to dispose of sharp items, syringes, IV tubing, and medicine bags. Gowns and gloves are disposed of in special bags. If there are any visible leaks or spills, special precautions are used to clean up the drugs.

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