Proper Handling of Oral Chemotherapy

Cancer treatment is ever changing and advancements are being made every day.

Oral Chemotherapy options have advanced significantly over the past few years and it’s estimated the use will more than double in the next several years. One estimate puts 25 percent of anticancer agents in the research pipeline as “designated for oral administration”. The increased use of oral chemotherapy is moving the administration of cancer treatment from a medical facility to patient’s homes. While this is convenient to patients, it can lead to adherence and safety issues. Patients and caregivers are now responsible for ensuring the correct medication and dose at the correct time. This leads to the importance of education regarding safe handling of oral chemotherapy before and during treatment.

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Proper Storage

  • Store medication in the original container unless otherwise consulted by your pharmacist. Your medication may require special storage conditions which require you to keep the medication in its original container.
  • Avoid temperature excursions. Most items should be stored at room temperature and should be kept away from hot and humid conditions.
  • Keep medication away from children and pets. Some medications should be kept at a safe distance from women of child-bearing age.

Safe Handling

  • Wash hands before and after taking your medication
  • If possible, only the patient should handle the medication. A caregiver can assist in medication administration if wearing special chemotherapy gloves. They should also wash their hands before and after handling the medication.
  • Do not crush, split, chew or dissolve the medication unless consulting your pharmacist.

Disposal of Body Waste

  • Bodily fluids may contain concentrations of drug during, and for awhile after taking the medication.
  • Always flush twice after using the toilet. It is recommended to close the lid before flushing. This includes if you vomit into the basin of your toilet.
  • Clothes that become soiled with bodily fluid should be washed separately from other laundry. It is recommended to wash these clothes twice in hot water.

Disposal of Unused Medication

  • Do not flush unused medication down the toilet.
  • Consult the pharmacy staff for proper means of medication disposal.

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