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Safety precautions for doctors, nurses and carers

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While chemotherapy drugs can help treat people with cancer, they can harm people who don’t have cancer.

The nurses and doctors giving chemotherapy take precautions to avoid direct contact with the drugs. They will wear special gloves, masks and goggles when preparing and giving you chemotherapy, and dispose of these in special bags.

Chemotherapy may remain in the body for a few days after treatment, possibly being passed in urine, stools and other body fluids such as vomit, semen and breast milk. Care needs to be taken so that other people are not exposed to the drugs through contact with your body fluids.

  • Flush toilet twice after using it for 48 hours following chemotherapy.
  • Wear gloves when handling clothing or bed sheets that have vomit or other body fluids on them.
  • Wash skin with soap and water if chemotherapy spills on it. Contact the hospital if any redness or irritation caused by the spillage doesn’t clear within the hour.
  • If you have sex on the day of treatment or in the three days afterwards, your partner should use a condom to protect against chemotherapy in your body fluids.
  • It is quite safe to handle children and to be around pregnant and breastfeeding women while receiving chemotherapy.

For general information about chemotherapy, see the Cancer Council booklet, Understanding Chemotherapy. It is available free by calling the Cancer Council Helpline (13 11 20).