The increase in cancer diagnoses in the population has resulted in a greater use of cytostatics. Following safety protocols and the use of appropriate protective equipment are key to reducing risk and protecting patients and staff.Chemotherapy is one of the most commonly used techniques for cancer treatment. Through the use of different drugs, its mission is to destroy cells that make up a tumor by reducing its size or by eliminating the disease. These drugs are called cytostatic and they attach both malignant and healthy cells in the same way.

The increase of cancer cases in the western world, most of which are treated with chemotherapy, has driven an increased use of cytostatic agents, which has in turn increased the health risk for medical staff who handle them.

All this has led to the need for precautions and protocols for patients and staff who come into direct contact with this type of medication, such as keeping certain security measures or using compatible materials when handling. For these reasons, arcomed, a leading manufacturer in infusion technology, has created oncology sets, specifically for cytostatic drugs, with compatible tubing and high quality polypropylene filters and needle-free connection ports.

Recommendations for working with cytostatics

The great toxicity of these drugs can affect both medical staff and patients, because they are designed for killing cells – regardless of whether they are carcinogenic or not.

Furthermore, cytostics particularly affect skin, mucous membranes, blood (organs and tissues with a high risk of infection), thus, public health institutions have introduced a series of health surveillance protocols for workers exposed to cytostatic agents in order to minimize the risks they may present.

1. How to manipulate them: It is recommended, among many other aspects, to wash hands before starting the activity, to prepare the drugs inside a laminar flow cabinet where hands and arms are protected when using syringes and other intravenous devices, and to change the needle and the syringe after each filling operation.

2. How to administer them: When giving a cytostatic drug to a patient, the healthcare staff must wear a protective gown and gloves, and administer the intravenous injection with minimal steps to reduce the risk of errors and potential expose to the cytostic.

3. How to store them: Hospitals should take a series of security measures to store these types of drugs; they should be isolated from other toxics, always be put in their correct storage conditions, not be stored once open or with poorly sealed containers, and ensure that all products are labelled.

Health centers must keep in mind these security protocols for use, handling, storage and disposal of cytostatics, as well as training healthcare professionals in there use and having reliable and suitable medical devices to undertake such an important and crucial therapy while safeguarding the health of all.