safe management of chemotherapy in the home

If you are receiving chemotherapy to treat your cancer you must take special precautions to prevent the chemotherapy from coming into accidental contact with others. This document teaches you and your family how to avoid exposure to chemotherapy and how to handle the waste from the chemotherapy in your home.


Chemotherapy drugs are hazardous. Equipment or items that come into contact with the medicines (such as syringes, needles) are considered contaminated. Regardless of how you take the medications, chemotherapy remains in your body for many hours and sometimes days after your treatment. Your body eliminates the chemotherapy in urine and stool. Traces of chemotherapy also may be present in vomit.

Keep oral chemotherapy away from children. It needs to be stored away from other family medications.

If you are discontinued from oral chemotherapy, please bring the unused medications back to your Oncologist’s office for proper disposal or drug recycle program. Do not flush medications down the toilet.

You may use the toilet (septic tank or sewer) as usual. Flush with the lid closed for 48 hours after receiving chemotherapy. Wash your hands with soap and water afterwards and wash your skin if urine or stool gets on it. Pregnant women should avoid direct contact with chemotherapy or contaminated waste.

Wash your clothing or linen normally unless they become soiled with chemotherapy. If that happens, put on gloves and handle the laundry carefully to avoid getting drug on your hands. Immediately place the contaminated items in the washer and wash as usual. Do not wash other items with chemotherapy-soiled items. If you do not have a washer, place soiled items in a plastic bag until they can be washed.

Chemotherapy spilled on skin may cause irritation. If this happens, thoroughly wash the area with a mild, castile soap and water, and then pat dry. If redness lasts more than one hour or if irritation occurs, call your doctor. To prevent chemotherapy from being absorbed through skin, wear gloves when working with chemotherapy, equipment or waste.

If any chemotherapy splashes into your eyes, flush them with water for 10-15 minutes and notify your doctor.