Chemotherapy Safety in the Home
are reading this because you or someone you are caring for is receiving chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy is strong medicine
used to fight cancer. While taking chemotherapy, it
is safe to touch other people (including hugging or kissing).
special care is needed to protect others from contact with the medication. Follow
these safety measures while
you are taking your chemotherapy (whether by needle
or as a pill) and for two days after you have finished.
How to safely prepare the medication:
Do not open capsules, crush tablets or cut pills. (If
you have trouble swallowing pills, please let your doctor know.
The medication may be available in a liquid form).
Make a special work area away from children, pets,
and food when preparing or giving chemotherapy.
Prepare the medication away from windows, heat ducts,
Cover the area on which you prepare the medication
with a paper towel.
Wash your hands before and after giving chemotherapy.
Wash any areas
that come into contact with the medicine with soap and water.
If you are caring for someone who is receiving
rubber or disposable waterproof gloves when preparing or giving chemotherapy. (These
can be found in most drug stores.)
Avoid vinyl gloves.
If you use rubber gloves, wash the outside with soapy
water before removing them.
If you use disposable gloves,
remove them carefully, turning them inside out, then seal them in a plastic bag
and throw into the trash.
Always wash your hands with soap and water after you
take the gloves off.
If possible, do not handle chemotherapy if you are
pregnant or breastfeeding.
What is the proper way to store chemotherapy
Check the labels to see if the chemotherapy should
be kept in the refrigerator or away from light.
If refrigeration is needed, make a special area away
from food items.
Store the medication in a sealed plastic container
Can I travel with chemotherapy medication?
Traveling with chemotherapy is usually not a problem.
However, you may have to make special arrangements if the
chemotherapy needs special storage, like refrigeration. Talk with your nurse, doctor,
or pharmacist for more instructions.
Regardless of how you travel, you should always seal
your chemotherapy medicine in a plastic bag.
Getting rid of body waste:
It takes about 48 hours for your body to break down
and/or get rid of most chemotherapy drugs. During
this time, a small amount of chemotherapy comes
out in your urine, stool, and vomit. There are
many things you can do to keep your home safe
from exposure to chemotherapy during and after
If you are using a bedpan for body wastes or a container
for vomiting, be careful not to splash or spill
the contents while you are emptying them into
If the bedpan or container used for vomit is not disposable,
rinse it with dishwashing or laundry detergent
and water, and put the rinse water in the toilet.
Flush the toilet with the lid down.
Any sink or basin that is used for vomiting should
be rinsed with dishwashing or laundry detergent
and rinsed with water.
Wash clothing or bed linens that have body wastes on
them with laundry detergent and hot water, separately
from the other laundry, as soon as possible.
If you are unable to wash them immediately,
place them in a sealed
plastic bag until they can be washed.
If you are
caring for someone who is receiving chemotherapy:
Always wear rubber
or disposable waterproof gloves when you are
cleaning or handling containers that are used for
body waste. Always wash your hands with soap and water
after you take the gloves off.
What should I do if I get body waste or chemotherapy
on my skin?
If you get body waste or chemotherapy on your skin,
the area with soap and water for five minutes. Watch
skin for the next seven days. If there is any redness
contact your doctor.
What should I do if my eyes are splashed by
body waste or chemotherapy?
If your eyes are splashed by body
waste or by chemotherapy, wash the eye with water or eye wash (artificial tears) for 15
minutes. Contact your doctor immediately for further
the poison control center in your area for any other
How should I get rid of equipment and contaminated items?
Use puncture-proof containers for sharp or breakable
items. Dispose of needles and syringes intact.
DO NOT BREAK OR RECAP NEEDLES.
Place gloves and empty chemotherapy tubing or containers
in a plastic bag and throw away with regular
Place syringes, tubing, or containers with any remaining
chemotherapy into a closed container. Label
the container with the “Hazardous Waste” label
that has been provided.
Chemotherapy is considered a hazardous waste.
• Keep containers used for “Hazardous Waste” away from
children, pets, and food.