Oral Chemo Safety Tips

If your cancer treatment includes taking oral chemotherapy, there are important safety tips you and your caregiver should follow.

It is safe to touch other people while on chemotherapy. You can hug and kiss. But you do need to protect others from coming into contact with your medicine.

Follow these safety tips while taking your chemotherapy pills and for two days after you're done. 

Preparing Your Medicine Safely

  • Do not open capsules, crush tablets or cut pills. If you have trouble swallowing pills, let your doctor know. The medicine may come in a liquid form.
  • Wash your hands before and after you take your chemotherapy. 
  • Wash any area that the medicine has touched with soapy water. 

Storing Chemotherapy Medicine 

  • Read the labels to see if you should keep the medicine in the refrigerator or away from light. 
  • If you need to refrigerate your medicine, keep it away from food items.
  • Store your medicine in a plastic container or bag you can seal. 

Disposing of Unused Chemotherapy Medicine 

  • Bring any unused chemotherapy medicine to your oncologist to properly dispose of. 
  • DO NOT throw it in the trash.
  • DO NOT flush it down the sink or toilet. 

Caring for Someone on Chemotherapy

  • Always wear rubber or waterproof gloves you can throw away when you prepare and give chemotherapy medicine.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after you take your gloves off.
  • If possible, do not handle chemotherapy medicine when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Getting Rid of Body Waste

It takes your body about 48 hours to break down and rid itself of most chemotherapy drugs. A small amount of chemotherapy comes out in your urine, stool, and vomit during those 48 hours. 

Here are ways you can keep your home safe: 

  • Be careful not to splash or spill any urine, stool, or vomit from a bedpan or container when you empty it into the toilet. Flush your toilet with the lid down.
  • If your bedpan or container is not disposable, rinse it with water and dish soap or laundry detergent. 
  • Wash your clothes and bed linens that have body waste on them. Use laundry detergent and hot water. Wash them separately from your other laundry.
  • Always wear rubber or waterproof gloves you can throw away when you clean or handle containers that are used for body waste. 
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after you take your gloves off.