Any thoughts on being exposed to chemo/radiation as an RN that wants babies someday?

Specialties Oncology


Good morning everyone! :) Hope you all are having a great day. I'm starting a new job in September as an Infusion therapy nurse, so I'll be working at an infusion center outpatient cancer center. After a year in medsurge I decided I wanted to find my niche and specialty I can enjoy and focus on! I have done a lot of research and after taking my chemo course, I have some concerns.

Is it possible to be infertile later on in life after being exposed to chemotherapy and radiation so much as an RN who is administering these drugs to cancer patients? I am only 24 and plan to have babies in 4-5 years. I am a fairly healthy person, no issues with my health, no cancer family history, etc . I am concerned because I heard it destroys your eggs and have heard many things :sour: Any nurses working this position for a while and haven't had any problems conceiving? Advice would appreciated :)

Another concern, is it possible to get cancer later on in life also after being exposed to these agents? How much do nurses really get exposed if we properly use protective equipment? This field sounds exciting and beneficial to me, but I would have a clear head whether I decide to stay with it long term or not having to hear it from nurses who actually do this job. Thank you to all the nursing family :up:

Specializes in Pedi.

Exposure to radiation is minimal, if any. Patients go into radiation rooms on their own. No one is allowed in the room with them, at least not in my experience. I am a pediatric nurse and any time I had to bring my neuro-onc patients to radiation when I worked in the hospital, no one was allowed in the room with them. There are some treatments that make patient radioactive (MiBG is the one that comes to mind) but a ton of precautions are taken for those patients to limit exposure.

On my floor, nurses gave chemo while pregnant. Their OBs and our Oncologists all consistently said that it wasn't a problem as long as they followed the proper precautions. If they chose to opt out of chemo patients while pregnant, that decision was honored. The staff I worked with were very fertile- I think we once had 9 nurses pregnant at the same time.

Chemo can destroy eggs in the person receiving the chemotherapy. As long as you follow the proper precautions, you should not be exposed. If you Google "oncology nurses and fertility", all of the matches are about oncology nurses discussing fertility issues with their patients. For what it's worth, I've known plenty of young adults who had cancer either as young adults or children who went on to get pregnant.

Late reply,

Inpatient radiation is not as in vogue as it used to be, now more and more individuals are having their radiation treatments as outpatient or go through a cycle while at home. Our hospital still does in patient cesium implants, but the amount of radiation you're exposed to is so minimal that it shouldn't affect your fertility. Plus your exposure is monitored with badges and rings that are checked every quarter (again at least at my hospital) just to ensure you don't have dangerous levels of radiation exposure.

With chemo, my hospital is a little more strict than. If you're pregnant, then you're not able to hang chemo. Hell, even if you're trying to get pregnant then our Charge RNs won't assign you a chemo patient unless there's no one else available. Even though the other individual is correct, and chemo exposure shouldn't be a problem to fertility as long as you're following chemo precautions. We also have 4 pregnant nurses at this time, and some are even older moms that have been giving chemo for over 10 years!

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