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Image of Shawna Kraft, Pharm.D
Shawna Kraft, Pharm.D.

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Tips for safe handling of medications for cancer therapy

Whether your cancer treatment is oral or intravenous, some medications may be harmful to those who live with you. Limiting exposure of other people to your pills and body fluids is your best bet to keeping everyone safe, even if the effect would be minimal.

Keeping prescription medication away from others sounds simple, but cancer therapy can be complex. Here are some general tips to ensure a safe home environment:

If you're instructed to dissolve your oral medication in liquid, do this in a paper or plastic cup that can be thrown away.

If you have a caregiver assisting with your oral medication, have the caregiver wear gloves while handling the medication or wash hands before and after giving you the medication.

Small amounts of chemotherapy may be present in your urine, stool, semen and vomit. If you or your caregiver is exposed to body wastes, wash that area with soap and water.

You may use the toilet as usual. Wash your hands well with soap and water after using the toilet. Other people in your household may use the same toilet as long as all the waste is flushed.

Caregivers should always wear gloves when disposing of urine, stool or other human waste and cleaning equipment.

Never flush your medication down the drain or toilet. Instead, wrap the medication with duct tape in its container and wrap it in two plastic bags before putting it in the trash.

Another option for safe disposal is to take the medication out of its original container and mix it with kitty litter or used coffee grounds before putting it in a can or zipper bag to throw away.

Continue reading the Spring, 2015 issue of Thrive.

Learning more about the environment and cancer; and oral chemotherapy

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Thrive Issue: 
Spring, 2015