Protocols/testing for long-term oncology nurses

  1. I was just curious if anyone has any knowledge on annual (or any time frame) testing for the long-term oncology nurses to have done since they are exposed to chemotherapy and radiation?
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    Joined: May '12; Posts: 8; Likes: 4

    6 Comments

  3. by   oncivrn
    Never heard of such a thing except for radiation badges. What exactly would you measure?
  4. by   Auttybee
    I knew of the radiation badges. Sorry I think I wrote out the wordage of my request wrong. I have never heard of such a thing either but I was trying to do some research on the topic of long-term oncology nurses being exposed and if there was anything else facilities do to monitor them and their exposure. Possibly lab work /radiology to see if there are any changes that would occur in the body from long term exposure?
  5. by   annacat
    The fact that no one has answered this question is disturbing to me as an Oncology RN.
    We should be tested annually for changes to our DNA and radiation levels.
    I feel that we are expected to hold a certain level of professionalism with certifications and such but that the companies who produce and sell the chemo should be required to give money to fund a centralized testing service for nurses who give chemotherapy.
    Anyone else feel this way?
  6. by   oncivrn
    Well I don't think a blood test to assess for DNA changes would be useful. What would a negative test show you? That your blood DNA has not changed. It would be impossible to test all your cells for gene changes

    a better idea would be for someone to do a long term study about the incidence and prevelance of malignancies or other diseases in nurses who hang chemo. And then maybe there would be a starting point on how to assess for DNA changes. I have not read any studies about this but agree it would be interesting. My colleagues and I "joke" that a little chemo exposure is prophylactic measure for us not to get cancer. I say joke but we do take towing and gloving very seriously.
  7. by   annacat
    It is completely inadequate that at this time there is no required testing of chemo nurses for exposure. I have gotten complacent and thought it was funny to joke about it too. I am guilty of the same thing.

    But think about what we are joking about.

    Exposure to substances that can change your DNA and cause cancer. That is not funny at all when you really think about it.
    Also you speak with such conviction when you say that they couldn't possibly check our dna for changes by testing our blood. They can by swabbing our buccal mucosa. Take a DNA sample at hire date and take one every year after that that you continue to give chemo.
    Hopkins Did a test of the infusion area when I was there. Swabbing surface areas like chairs, desks, floor and found that chemo was present every where. Even though we used Phaseal devices and wore gowns and gloves etc. the chemo was everywhere! guess why? The patients sweat and vomit and blow there noses, and cry, and exude all kinds of body fluids and skin/hair cells constantly. All of these bodily products contain chemo. This goes on for years and years. We work in that environment for years. The patients and family members visit, but we practically live there.
    I value my health enough to question the status quo on this one. I am reconsidering my role as a nurse. I may end up opting out of Oncology to protect myself.
  8. by   oncivrn
    Yes I have read the studies and believe the chemo is everywhere. But swabbing your buccal mucosa would only show changes there. I'm not saying there isn't exposure or that it is funny. Only that we need to know what to measure.

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