Your thoughts on health risks associated with chemotherapy

Qimono Safe Connections Ed. 4

October 2019.

Your thoughts on health risks associated with chemotherapy…

Last year the UK Oncology Nurses Society (UKONS) funded a Cochrane review to assess the effectiveness of closed‐system drug‐transfer devices (CSTDs) in reducing nurse exposure to cytotoxic drugs whilst patients were being treated.  They concluded that no firm conclusions could be drawn on the effect of CSTDs combined with safe handling versus safe handling alone, due to very low certainty evidence.

However, the review received a number of criticisms questioning the way the evidence was analysed. This led to a further investigation by the Cochrane group, which has now found the review to be of sound methodological quality.

To address its concerns about the lack of clinical studies and help build the evidence-base around an issue, UKONS confirmed it will shortly announce some funding to conduct a small feasibility study to begin to address the key research questions regarding the use of CSTD. The review suggested that multicentre, randomised controlled trials may be feasible depending upon the proportion of people with exposure. They also suggested that future studies should evaluate exposure to a relevant selection of hazardous drugs used in the hospital measuring direct short-term health outcomes.

As UKONs recommended, there’s no doubt that further research needs to be done but, in the meantime, we would be really interested in your thoughts on whether you feel there is concern amongst nurses about the effects on their health when they treat patients.

  • Have you experienced any adverse health effects after administering chemotherapy?
  • Is there enough information about the steps to take to protect nurses?
  • Do you believe more should be done to help you and your colleagues minimise the risks of exposure?

Do please get in touch, anonymously if you wish, to share your experiences and suggestions.  We are keen to ensure we support you in the most effective way possible and your feedback is vital.


Oncology questions


Published 17th October 2019

A UKONS -funded Cochrane review published in 2018 found no evidence of benefits from closed system drug-transfer devices (CSTD) when used for administration of SACT. Following this publication UKONS released a position statement indicating the uncertainty in the benefits of CSTD. The Cochrane review received a number of criticisms, some of which were from authors who have been previously funded by the manufacturers of closed system devices.