Prevention of Risks from Occupational Exposures to Antineoplastic Drugs: Consensus Document. Article

Alessio, L, Apostoli, P, Draicchio, F et al. (1997). Prevention of Risks from Occupational Exposures to Antineoplastic Drugs: Consensus Document. . INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF OCCUPATIONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, 3(1), 84. 10.1179/oeh.1997.3.1.84

cited authors

  • Alessio, L; Apostoli, P; Draicchio, F; Forni, A; Lucchini, R; Merler, E; Palazzo, S; Scarselli, R; Sossai, D


  • Ever-increasing numbers of cancer patients have been treated with antineoplastic drugs in the past few years. Among patients treated with these drugs, an increased risk of a "second neoplasm" has been observed, mainly as a function of increased life expectancy. On the basis of this observation, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified a number of antineoplastic drugs as carcinogenic or probably carcinogenic for humans. Various categories of workers are at risk for exposure to antineoplastic drugs, absorbing these substances mainly through inhalation or dermal contact. Although the absorbed doses are notably lower than those administered to patients, review of the literature reveals increased risks of spontaneous abortions and chromosomal aberrations in subjects who have worked without adequate protection. A working group, Prevention of Occupational Risks Due to Handling Antineoplastic Drugs in Health Care, was established by the Italian Institute of Prevention and Safety at Work (Istituto Superiore per la Prevenzione e Sicurezza sul Lavoro-ISPESL) in February 1995. This group reviewed the epidemiologic studies and research on cytogenetic indicators of genotoxicity in occupationally exposed subjects. In addition, the group made recommendations for environmental and biological monitoring of exposure and health surveillance, and developed guidelines for primary and secondary prevention. The group's recommendations are summarized in a consensus document, but cannot be considered definitive, since work practices continue to evolve and will have to be examined further in the future. Thus, more research is needed to achieve answers to the questions raised by the working group. The main topics to be addressed are indicated in the consensus document. In particular, it will be necessary to evaluate working conditions nationwide, using standardized protocols for risk assessment, to achieve precise estimates of workers' exposures.

publication date

  • January 1, 1997

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