Chemotherapy is strong medicine, so it is safest for people without cancer to avoid direct contact with the drugs. That’s why oncology nurses and doctors wear gloves, goggles, gowns and, sometimes, masks. When the treatment session is over, these items are disposed of in special bags or bins.
After each chemotherapy session, the drugs may remain in your body for up to a week. This depends on the type of drugs used. The drugs are then released into urine, faeces and vomit. They could also be passed to other body fluids such as saliva, sweat, semen or vaginal discharge, and breast milk.
Some people having chemotherapy worry about the safety of family and friends. There is little risk to visitors, including children, babies and pregnant women, because they aren’t likely to come into contact with any chemotherapy drugs or body fluids.
This resource by the Cancer Council advises these safety guidelines to reduce exposure to chemotherapy drugs at home, both for you and your family and friends during the recovery period at home. Safety precautions can vary depending on the drugs you receive, so ask your treatment team about your individual situation.
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