Some of the precautions you should make in the home after your chemotherapy treatment
Precautions need to be taken to protect you, family members and your caregivers from coming into contact with chemotherapy medicine. Chemotherapy leaves the body through urine, vomit, blood, stool, sweat, mucus and sexual fluids.
How can I protect myself and loved ones while I’m getting chemo?
There are many things you can do during and after chemo to keep yourself and your loved ones from being affected by the drugs while your body is flushing them out. It takes about 48 hours for your body to break down and get rid of most chemo drugs.
When chemo drugs get outside your body, they can harm or irritate skin – yours or even other people’s. Keep in mind that this means toilets can be a hazard for children and pets, and it’s important to be careful.
We have outlined general precautions that you should follow during your infusion and for two days after your chemotherapy is done. Talk to your doctor about these and any other precautions you need to know.
• Flush the toilet twice after chemotherapy. Put the lid down before flushing to avoid splashing.
• Both men and women should sit on the toilet to use it. This cuts down on splashing.
• Always wash your hands with warm water and soap after using the toilet. Dry your hands with paper towels and throw them away.
• If you vomit into the toilet, clean off all splashes and flush twice. If you vomit into a bucket or basin, carefully empty it into the toilet without splashing the contents and flush twice. Wash out the bucket with hot, soapy water and rinse it, emptying the wash and rinse water into the toilet, then flushing it.
• Caregivers should wear two pairs of disposable gloves if they need to touch any of your body fluids. They should always wash their hands with warm water and soap afterward – even if they had gloves on.
• If a caregiver does come in contact with any of your body fluids, they should wash the area very well with warm water and soap. It’s not likely to cause any harm, but try to take extra care to avoid this. At your next visit, let your doctor know this happened.
• Any clothes or sheets that have body fluids on them should be washed in your washing machine – not by hand. Wash them in warm water with regular laundry detergent. Do not wash them with other clothes. If they cannot be washed right away, seal them in a plastic bag.
Sexual activity and pregnancy
It’s important to use reliable contraception during treatment. Avoid getting pregnant while you or your partner are having chemotherapy. This is because the drugs may harm the baby.
If you have or have had breast cancer, your doctor might advise you not to take the contraceptive pill. This is because the hormones in it might affect the cancer.
It is not known for sure whether or not chemotherapy drugs can be passed on through semen or secretions from the vagina. Because of this, some doctors advise people to use a barrier method (such as condoms, femidoms or dental dams) if you have sex during cancer treatment. This applies to vaginal, anal or oral sex.