Protecting nurses against the risks of occupational exposure to systemic anticancer therapy agents
CPD    

Protecting nurses against the risks of occupational exposure to systemic anticancer therapy agents

Alison Simons Senior Lecturer in Cancer and Chemotherapy, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, England
Samantha Toland Senior Lecturer in Haemato-oncology and Chemotherapy, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To learn about the risks of exposure to systemic anticancer therapy agents

  • To read about methods of minimising the risk of exposure to systemic anticancer therapy agents

  • To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

Many agents used for systemic anticancer therapy (SACT), which include chemotherapy drugs, monoclonal antibodies and other biological therapies, are known to be carcinogenic, teratogenic and mutagenic. Occupational exposure to SACT agents carries a proven risk of short- and long-term adverse health effects such as nausea, headaches, dizziness, hair loss, impaired fertility and cancer. The risk of contamination exists not only for staff who prepare or administer SACT agents, but also for those involved in transport, storage and waste disposal. In the UK, the handling of SACT agents is subject to a series of laws, regulations and guidelines. However, there are still inconsistencies in practice and a lack of awareness of the risks involved and need for training. The necessary preventive measures are not always in place and some staff remain exposed to cytotoxic agents. Furthermore, the risk of occupational exposure to SACT agents has intensified in recent years due to a significant increase in their use. This article prompts nurses to reflect on the health risks associated with handling SACT agents and the preventive and protective measures required.

Cancer Nursing Practice. doi: 10.7748/cnp.2020.e1733

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

@sactsafety4all

Correspondence

alison.simons@bcu.ac.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Simons A, Toland S (2020) Protecting nurses against the risks of occupational exposure to systemic anticancer therapy agents. Cancer Nursing Practice. doi: 10.7748/cnp.2020.e1733

Published online: 30 December 2020

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