Chemotherapy safety

Chemotherapy is strong medicine, so it is safest for people without cancer to avoid direct contact with the drugs. That’s why oncology nurses and doctors wear gloves, goggles, gowns and, sometimes, masks. When the treatment session is over, these items are disposed of in special bags or bins.

After each chemotherapy session, the drugs may remain in your body for up to a week. This depends on the type of drugs used. The drugs are then released into urine, faeces and vomit. They could also be passed to other body fluids such as saliva, sweat, semen or vaginal discharge, and breast milk.

Some people having chemotherapy worry about the safety of family and friends. There is little risk to visitors, including children, babies and pregnant women, because they aren’t likely to come into contact with any chemotherapy drugs or body fluids.


 

Chemotherapy safety in the home

Follow these safety guidelines to reduce exposure to chemotherapy drugs at home, both for you and your family and friends during the recovery period at home. Safety precautions can vary depending on the drugs you receive, so ask your treatment team about your individual situation.

Use a plastic bucket

Use a plastic bucket

Vomit into a plastic bowl or bucket (or a plastic bag with no holes). Don’t use the bowl or bucket for anything else, and throw it out after your final chemotherapy session.

cleaning up spills

Clean up spills

If any body fluids (during the week after a treatment session) or chemotherapy drugs spill onto household surfaces, put on a pair of waterproof gloves, soak up the spill with paper towels, clean around the area with a disposable cloth and soapy water, and rinse the area with water.

Seal used gloves, cloths and paper towels in a plastic bag before putting them in the bin.

toilet

Take care going to the toilet

For a week after a treatment session, sit down to use the toilet. Put the lid down before flushing to avoid splashing.

Wear disposable gloves

Wear disposable gloves

During the week after a treatment session, wear disposable waterproof gloves when handling clothing or bedsheets soiled with vomit or other body fluids. Seal the gloves in a plastic bag and discard after use.

Keep tablets whole

Keep tablets whole

Don’t crush, chew or cut chemotherapy tablets. If you can’t swallow a tablet whole, ask your oncologist or pharmacist whether the drugs come in other preparations (i.e. liquid).

Put medicines in a safe place

Put medicines in a safe place

Store all tablets, capsules or injections as directed by your oncologist or pharmacist – they often need special storage to keep them effective and safe. Keep them out of reach of children, and do not store them in a pill organiser with other medicines.

Handle laundry carefully

Handle laundry carefully

Wash clothing or other items soiled with body fluids separately. Use the longest washing machine cycle (hot or cold water can be used). Line dry the items.

Use protection

Use protection

Use a condom or a female condom if having any type of sex after a chemotherapy session. Your doctor or nurse can give you more details about how long you need to use protection.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Avoid pregnancy while having chemotherapy. If you have a baby, you will not be able to breastfeed during your course of chemotherapy.


Click on the icon below to download the booklet Understanding Chemotherapy as a PDF.


Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

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Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.


This information was last reviewed in August 2018
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