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Precautions after receiving Chemotherapy

Handling of Bodily Fluids/Waste: The First 48 hours

 

 

Chemotherapy is a powerful tool against cancer, but it can be harmful to healthy tissue.  Special precautions are necessary to limit harmful exposure to you and those helping to care for you.

How can I protect myself and those I live with while I’m getting chemo?

There are many things you can do during and after IV chemotherapy to keep yourself and your loved ones from being affected by the drugs while your body is getting rid of them. It takes about 48 hours for your body to excrete most chemo drugs.

Most of the waste comes out in your bodily fluids – urine, stool, tears, saliva, blood, sweat, and vomit.  

There are many different oral chemotherapeutic agents currently in use with various dosing frequencies and treatment durations.  Ask your nurse to check with the Oncology Pharmacist to determine the amount of chemo excreted for a particular oral chemotherapeutic agent.

 

If any of your caregivers are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about precautions they need to take before you receive chemotherapy.

 For the first 48 hours after receiving chemotherapy:

  • Toilets should be flushed twice after use. The lid should be down before flushing to avoid splashing. If possible, a separate toilet should be used from other members of the household during this time. Both men and women should sit on the toilet to use it. This cuts down on splashing.

 

  • Always wash hands with warm water and soap after using the toilet. Use paper towels to dry your hands and throw them away.

 

  • If vomiting into the toilet, clean off all splashes and flush twice. If vomiting into a basin, it should be carefully emptied into the toilet without splashing the contents and flushed twice.  The basin should be washed with hot, soapy water and rinsed.  Empty the water into the toilet, and then flush it. Dry the basin with paper towels and throw them away.

 

  • Caregivers should wear two pairs of disposable gloves if they need to touch any bodily fluids. (These can be bought in most drug stores.) They should always wash their hands with warm water and soap afterward – even if gloves were worn.

 

  • If a caregiver does come in contact with any bodily fluids, they should wash the area very well with warm water and soap. It’s not likely to cause any harm, but extra care should be taken.

 

  • If using disposable adult briefs, underwear, or sanitary pads, seal them in two plastic bags and throw them away with your regular trash.

 

  • Any clothes or sheets that have bodily fluids on them should be washed in the washing machine – not by hand. Wash them in warm water with regular laundry detergent. Do not wash them with other clothes.

 

  • Sexual contact: Chemo may be excreted in vaginal fluids and semen during the first 48 hours after treatment. Condoms should be used to prevent risk to your partner. 

 

 Sources:

 American Cancer Society - Chemo Safety OncoLink (University of Pennsylvania) - Home Safety for Patients Receiving Chemotherapy