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CAUT Health and Safety
Fact Sheet
Cytotoxic Drugs Fact Sheet
Cytotoxic drugs pose a unique hazard to healthcare workersand others. While these anti-cancer agents are intended tokill cancer cells in affected patients, anyone handling, givingor disposing of these drugs is especially vulnerable to devel- oping cancer from being exposed to them because they canbe just as harmful to healthy cells and tissue.1 These drugs are also used in the treatment of some sexually transmitted and other diseases2 – their use needs to follow the sameprocedures as if given for cancer treatment.
Rita Kwong, Pharmacy Site Operations Manager at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital (University Health Network)stresses that anyone working with cancer-causing agents must understand the hazards, have adequate training, andknow how to protect themself by participating in theirinstitutions training programs on cytotoxic drugs.
It is important for academic staff who teach and/or work For more information:
in research and clinical settings to ensure that they, their Laura Lozanski
staff and students have appropriate safety protocols in place both on campus and in community training settings.
The British Columbia Cancer Agency notes that “Although there are no specific screening techniques which indicate levels of exposure or to predict adverse health effects ofexposure to cytotoxic agents, it is of paramount importance Published by the
to take measures to protect the employee’s health status.”3 Canadian Association
Please work with your Joint Health and Safety Committee of University Teachers
2705 Queensview Drive
( JHSC) to ensure that you have the most up to date infor- mation on cytotoxic hazards and the most effective meth-
F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 1
Cytotoxic drugs, also known as antineoplastic or chemo-therapy drugs are used to kill or slow the growth of C A U T H E A L T H A N D S A F E T Y F A C T S H E E T * I S S U E 2 5
themselves and others who must or may come in contact Exposure –
Health Hazards
Routes of Exposure
• Absorption through the skin• Needlestick injury C A U T H E A L T H A N D S A F E T Y F A C T S H E E T * I S S U E 2 5
have a written policy in placethat ensures the health and safe- Who are at risk?
Main Components of
Worker Protection Plan:
Protection and
OSHA or American Conferenceof Governmental Industrial require information and trainingfor optimum protection for C A U T H E A L T H A N D S A F E T Y F A C T S H E E T * I S S U E 2 5
It is important for academic
staff who teach and/or work in
research and clinical settings
ensure that they have appropriate
safety protocols in place
Safe handling of cytotoxic drugs,HSE Information SheetMISC615, UK Princess Margaret Hospital,University Health Network,Toronto (chemotherapy pharmacy department) The Management of BiomedicalWaste in Ontario, November 1 CDC/NIOSH Occupational
2 Public Health Agency
3 British Columbia Cancer
4 CAREX Canada,
5 Health Canada Drug
6 CDC/NIOSH Occupational
Drliwa | (page 3)James Gathany | Public Health Image Library (page 4)


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