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Safe handling at home of medications and waste

safe handlingWhether your cancer treatment is oral or intravenous, some medications may be harmful to those who live with you. Limiting exposure of other people to your pills and body fluids is your best bet to keeping everyone safe, even if the effect would be minimal.

Keeping prescription medication away from others sounds simple, but cancer therapy can be complex. Here are some general tips to ensure a safe home environment:

  • If you’re instructed to dissolve your oral medication in liquid, do this in a paper or plastic cup that can be thrown away.
  • If you have a caregiver assisting with your oral medication, have the caregiver wear gloves while handling the medication or wash hands before and after giving you the medication.
  • Small amounts of chemotherapy may be present in your urine, stool, semen and vomit. If you or your caregiver is exposed to body wastes, wash that area with soap and water.
  • You may use the toilet as usual. Wash your hands well with soap and water after using the toilet. Other people in your household may use the same toilet as long as all the waste is flushed.
  • Caregivers should always wear gloves when disposing of urine, stool or other human waste and cleaning equipment.
  • Never flush your medication down the drain or toilet. Instead, wrap the medication with duct tape in its container and wrap it in two plastic bags before putting it in the trash.
  • Another option for safe disposal is to take the medication out of its original container and mix it with kitty litter or used coffee grounds before putting it in a can or zipper bag to throw away.

Take the next step:

  • Read more about chemotherapy from the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.
  • Find a National Cancer Institute booklet, Chemotherapy and You, here. It is downloadable in PDF, Kindle and ePub formats.

From the Spring 2015 edition of Thrive.


Cancer-center-informal-vertical-sig-150x150The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.