Safe Handling of Chemotherapy and Biotherapy at Home

This information will help you safely handle chemotherapy and biotherapy at home.

Handling Your Medication

  • Wash your hands before and after touching your chemotherapy or biotherapy medication.
  • Caregivers should wear disposable gloves when touching your medication. Make sure they throw the gloves in the trash afterward.
  • Do not allow pregnant or nursing women to handle your medication.
  • Do not crush, break, or open any pills or capsules unless your doctor tells you to.
  • If a child or pet accidentally swallows your medication, call Poison Control immediately at 800-222-1222.
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Storing and Disposing of Your Medication

  • Store all of your medications in sealed containers away from children and pets.
  • Keep your medication in its original container.
  • Your nurse or pharmacist may give you special instructions on how to store your medication.
  • If your medication needs to be in the refrigerator, store the container inside another container or in a sealed bag. Make sure it does not touch any food.
  • Left-over medication cannot go in the trash. Keep it in its container and place in a plastic bag before returning it to the chemotherapy unit.
  • Follow instructions in the resource How to Store and Dispose of Your Home Medical Sharps.
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Intravenous (IV) Medication

Make sure the connections of your IV tubing are tight and not leaking. You should do this twice a day.

If the IV connection is leaking:

  1. Put on disposable gloves.

  2. Cover the connection with a paper towel and a plastic bag.

  3. Stop the pump by clamping the tubing, turning off the pump, or both.

  4. Call right away for instructions from a nurse:

    • Monday through from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm call your doctor’s office at ________________________.
    • After 5:00 pm, during the weekends, and on holidays call the Urgent Care Center at 212-639-7203.
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Handling Waste

Your medication may appear in your body fluids (i.e., urine, stool, vomit, vaginal fluid, or semen). Follow these instructions for 2 days after IV therapy and 7 days after oral therapy:

  • You or your caregiver should wear disposable gloves when:
    • Emptying or rinsing containers such as a bedpan, urinal or commode.
    • Touching soiled diapers.
    • Cleaning up urine, vomit, and stool.
  • Place all disposable diapers in a sealed bag before putting them in the trash.
  • Close the toilet lid and flush twice after using the toilet.
  • Wash your hands after using the toilet.
  • Wash any skin area that has come in contact with urine or stool.
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If a liquid medication spills:

  1. Put on disposable gloves.

  2. Soak up the spill with paper towels.

  3. Clean the area of the spill with a disinfectant wipe that contains bleach.

  4. Clean the area again with soap and water and paper towels.

  5. Place all supplies used to clean the spill in a plastic bag and seal it before you put it in the trash. When you throw them out, make sure people and pets will not come into contact with your medication.

Medication that spills on your skin may cause irritation. Thoroughly wash the area with soap and water. Call your doctor or nurse if you develop any skin redness, pain or burning.

If your medication splashes in your eyes, immediately rinse them with running water. Keep the water flowing over your open eyes for 10 to15 minutes. Call your doctor or nurse to ask for more instructions. Your eyes may need to be examined.

If your medication gets on your clothing or linens:

  1. Put on disposable gloves.

  2. Make sure that the items with the medication do not touch any part of your body.

  3. Place the items with the medication on them in the washing machine and wash as usual. Do not wash any other laundry with medication-soiled items. If you do not have a washing machine, place the items in a plastic bag until they can be washed.



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If you have any questions or concerns, talk with a member of your healthcare team. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at ____________________. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call____________________. If there’s no number listed, or you’re not sure, call 212-639-2000.
Safe Handling of Chemotherapy and Biotherapy at Home
©2015 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - Generated on November 26, 2015