Chemotherapy: what you need to know about the safe handling of cytotoxic drugs

Nurses are encouraged to learn more about dangers posed by cytotoxic drugs

Cytotoxic systemic anticancer therapy (SACT) agents are potentially hazardous to nurses involved in their preparation or administration

Nurses report health issues such as headaches, dizziness and nausea, with a small number having miscarriages, fertility problems and hair loss

  • Scarcity of research into risks of handling the agents means health and safety hazards are not well known and awareness remains low
  • Safeguards include closed systems to minimise exposure and advanced training for nurses, who should obtain a ‘competency passport’

While there is no doubt that chemotherapy drugs save lives, they can also pose risks to the nurses who handle them.

Cytotoxic systemic anticancer therapy (SACT) agents contain chemicals that are


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