Cytotoxic Precautions

What are Cytotoxic Drugs?

Cytotoxic drugs are used to treat a variety of medical conditions including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and certain skin and muscle conditions by preventing the rapid growth and division of cells. They can help those receiving treatment but may be harmful to others. It is important, therefore, to take precautions while you are taking these medications to minimize exposure to others.

How does exposure occur?

Most of the medication leaves your body in your urine, but small amounts are found in other body fluids.

These include:

  • Blood
  • Phlegm
  • Vomit
  • Semen
  • Vaginal fluid

Be careful that your medication or body fluids DO NOT touch other people. Hugging, kissing and touching is safe.

It is important to be careful while you are both on the medication and for a time after you stop taking them.

How can exposure be prevented? It is important that family members and others who enter the patient’s home while you are receiving this therapy understand how to protect themselves.


  • Use specifically colored and labeled containers for garbage – we use a red bag and a “Cytotoxic Precautions” sign.
  • Everyone who handles your equipment or laundry will need to wear gloves.
  • Any syringes should be desposed of in your sharps container.
  • Your laundry must be washed in the main laundry, not in your unit.
  • Before you flush the toilet, put the lid down. Flush twice. Wash your hands well.
  • Wash your skin right away if it is soiled with urine, bowel movements or other body fluids.
If you are visiting friends or family:

  • You will need to speak with your nurse to ensure you and your family know how to stay safe at home with your medications.
  • Anything you cannot flush down the toilet should be placed in a garbage bag, tied tight and put in another garbage bag. Remember to flush twice!
  • Keep children or pets away from your garbage.
  • Carefully clean all surfaces in the home.


Northwood Bedford
123 Gary Martin Drive,
Bedford, NS B4B 0G7

Northwood Halifax
2615 Northwood Terrace, 
Halifax, NS B3K 3S5