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Occupational Exposure to Cancer Chemotherapy Agents and Adverse Health Outcomes

patient's hand receiving treatment for cancer

Many cancer chemotherapy agents have toxic properties that can lead to secondary cancers in patients receiving treatment for cancer, and are known to cause DNA damage and adverse pregnancy outcomes (e.g., fetal loss, congenital malformations). Occupational exposure to these agents was first documented in the 1970s and continues to occur, despite the issuance of safe handling guidelines in 1980s. While occupational exposure likely occurs at lower levels than those administered to patients or laboratory animals, the duration of exposure is longer and exposure may involve multiple chemotherapy agents.

As a follow-up to the NTP Monograph on Developmental Effects and Pregnancy Outcomes Associated with Use of Cancer Chemotherapy Agents During Pregnancy, OHAT is conducting a systematic review of the published studies of occupational exposure to cancer chemotherapy agents and adverse health effects in humans. In addition, this systematic review also summarizes the prevalence and levels of cancer chemotherapy agents detected in the workplace. The protocol, which outlines the process for this systematic review, is available below.