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      Carcinogenic drug exposure among health-sector workers: the need for exposure assessment and surveillance Translated title: Exposición a medicamentos cancerígenos en trabajadores del sector de la salud: necesidad de evaluación y vigilancia de la exposición Translated title: Exposição a fármacos carcinogênicos entre profissionais de saúde: necessidade de avaliação e vigilância da exposição


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          Antineoplastic drugs (ANDs) used for chemotherapy can cause secondary cancers in treated patients and can pose carcinogenic risks to health-sector workers anywhere along these drugs’ life cycle in a facility, from production to patient administration. Several PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centers (CCs) have experience addressing these hazards in the health sector. The objectives of this report are four-fold: 1) Provide an overview of longstanding research and prevention efforts, led by PAHO/WHO and its Occupational Health CCs, aimed at reducing the burden of occupational cancer in the Americas; 2) Discuss how robust AND exposure assessment and educational/outreach work by PAHO CCs can form the basis of exposure mitigation efforts among health-sector workers; 3) Through the presentation of original AND exposure assessment data from a pharmaceutical compounding facility in Chile, highlight relatively inexpensive methods by which such data can be generated; and 4) Discuss how effective, periodic environmental surveillance in healthcare facilities results in the identification of AND contamination in the work environment and enables the implementation of low-cost, high-impact interventions to reduce the risk of occupational cancer in health-sector workers, including in limited-resource settings.

          The risk of health-sector worker exposure to ANDs and other hazardous drugs is an important issue for inclusion within PAHO/WHO’s broader efforts at reducing the impact of occupational cancer in the Americas. This report demonstrates that a wide range of accessible AND-exposure mitigation strategies are feasible at both a facility and a national policy level across the hemisphere.


          Los medicamentos antineoplásicos empleados en quimioterapia pueden causar distintos tipos de tumores secundarios en pacientes tratados y presentar riesgos cancerígenos para los trabajadores del sector de la salud en cualquier momento del ciclo de vida de estos medicamentos en las instalaciones, desde su producción hasta su administración al paciente. Varios centros colaboradores de la OPS/OMS tienen experiencia en cuanto a cómo abordar estos peligros en el sector de la salud. Este informe persigue cuatro objetivos: 1) ofrecer una visión general de la labor de investigación y prevención de larga data, liderada por la OPS/OMS y sus centros colaboradores de salud ocupacional, encaminada a reducir la carga del cáncer ocupacional en la Región de las Américas; 2) abordar cómo una evaluación sólida de la exposición a los medicamentos antineoplásicos y la labor educativa y divulgativa de los centros colaboradores de la OPS pueden sentar las bases de los esfuerzos de mitigación de la exposición en los trabajadores del sector de la salud; 3) mediante la presentación de datos originales sobre la evaluación de la exposición a los medicamentos antineoplásicos en una instalación de compuestos farmacéuticos en Chile, destacar métodos relativamente asequibles gracias a los cuales se pueden recopilar dichos datos; y 4) examinar cómo la vigilancia ambiental efectiva y periódica en los centros de salud permite detectar casos de contaminación de medicamentos antineoplásicos en el entorno de trabajo y facilita la ejecución de intervenciones de bajo costo y alto impacto para reducir el riesgo de cáncer ocupacional en los trabajadores del sector de la salud, incluso en entornos de recursos limitados.

          El riesgo de exposición de los trabajadores del sector de la salud a los medicamentos antineoplásicos y otros medicamentos peligrosos es una cuestión importante para su inclusión en los esfuerzos más amplios de la OPS/OMS para reducir los efectos del cáncer ocupacional en la Región de las Américas. En este informe se demuestra que una amplia gama de estrategias accesibles de mitigación de la exposición a los medicamentos antineoplásicos es factible tanto a nivel de las instalaciones como de las políticas nacionales en toda la Región.


          Os medicamentos antineoplásicos usados para quimioterapia podem causar cânceres secundários em pacientes tratados e apresentar riscos carcinogênicos aos profissionais de saúde em qualquer momento do ciclo de vida desses fármacos dentro de um estabelecimento, desde sua produção até a administração ao paciente. Vários centros colaboradores da OPAS/OMS têm experiência em lidar com esses riscos no setor de saúde. Este relatório tem quatro objetivos: 1) fornecer uma visão geral dos esforços de longa data em pesquisa e prevenção liderados pela OPAS/OMS e por seus centros colaboradores de saúde ocupacional, cuja meta é reduzir a carga do câncer ocupacional nas Américas; 2) discutir como uma avaliação robusta da exposição aos antineoplásicos e o trabalho de extensão/educacional dos centros colaboradores da OPAS/OMS podem embasar os esforços de mitigação da exposição entre os profissionais de saúde; 3) por meio da apresentação de dados originais de avaliação da exposição a antineoplásicos obtidos de uma central de manipulação de medicamentos no Chile, destacar métodos relativamente econômicos para gerar esse tipo de dados; e 4) discutir como a vigilância ambiental eficaz e periódica em estabelecimentos de saúde resulta na identificação de contaminação por antineoplásicos no ambiente de trabalho e permite a implementação de intervenções de baixo custo e alto impacto para reduzir o risco de câncer ocupacional em profissionais de saúde, inclusive em contextos de recursos limitados.

          O risco de exposição dos profissionais de saúde aos medicamentos antineoplásicos e outros fármacos perigosos é uma questão importante a ser incluída nos esforços mais amplos da OPAS/OMS de reduzir o impacto do câncer ocupacional nas Américas. Este relatório demonstra a viabilidade de uma ampla gama de estratégias acessíveis de mitigação da exposição aos antineoplásicos, tanto no nível das instituições quanto no âmbito de políticas nacionais em todo o hemisfério.

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          Most cited references38

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          Global Cancer Statistics 2020: GLOBOCAN Estimates of Incidence and Mortality Worldwide for 36 Cancers in 185 Countries

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            European Code against Cancer 4th Edition: 12 ways to reduce your cancer risk

            This overview describes the principles of the 4th edition of the European Code against Cancer and provides an introduction to the 12 recommendations to reduce cancer risk. Among the 504.6 million inhabitants of the member states of the European Union (EU28), there are annually 2.64 million new cancer cases and 1.28 million deaths from cancer. It is estimated that this cancer burden could be reduced by up to one half if scientific knowledge on causes of cancer could be translated into successful prevention. The Code is a preventive tool aimed to reduce the cancer burden by informing people how to avoid or reduce carcinogenic exposures, adopt behaviours to reduce the cancer risk, or to participate in organised intervention programmes. The Code should also form a base to guide national health policies in cancer prevention. The 12 recommendations are: not smoking or using other tobacco products; avoiding second-hand smoke; being a healthy body weight; encouraging physical activity; having a healthy diet; limiting alcohol consumption, with not drinking alcohol being better for cancer prevention; avoiding too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation; avoiding cancer-causing agents at the workplace; reducing exposure to high levels of radon; encouraging breastfeeding; limiting the use of hormone replacement therapy; participating in organised vaccination programmes against hepatitis B for newborns and human papillomavirus for girls; and participating in organised screening programmes for bowel cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer.
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              Evaluation of antineoplastic drug exposure of health care workers at three university-based US cancer centers.

              This study evaluated health care worker exposure to antineoplastic drugs. A cross-sectional study examined environmental samples from pharmacy and nursing areas. A 6-week diary documented tasks involving those drugs. Urine was analyzed for two specific drugs, and blood samples were analyzed by the comet assay. Sixty-eight exposed and 53 nonexposed workers were studied. Exposed workers recorded 10,000 drug-handling events during the 6-week period. Sixty percent of wipe samples were positive for at least one of the five drugs measured. Cyclophosphamide was most commonly detected, followed by 5-fluorouracil. Three of the 68 urine samples were positive for one drug. No genetic damage was detected in exposed workers using the comet assay. Despite following recommended safe-handling practices, workplace contamination with antineoplastic drugs in pharmacy and nursing areas continues at these locations.

                Author and article information

                Rev Panam Salud Publica
                Rev Panam Salud Publica
                Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
                Organización Panamericana de la Salud
                10 March 2023
                : 47
                : e11
                [1 ] orgnameUniversidad de Concepción Concepción Chile originalUniversidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile
                [2 ] orgnameUniversity of Maryland Baltimore United States of America originalUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore, United States of America.
                Author notes

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 IGO License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. No modifications or commercial use of this article are permitted. In any reproduction of this article there should not be any suggestion that PAHO or this article endorse any specific organization or products. The use of the PAHO logo is not permitted. This notice should be preserved along with the article’s original URL. Open access logo and text by PLoS, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

                : 13 May 2022
                : 29 September 2022
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 34
                Funded by: The University of Concepción, Chile;
                Award ID: VRID 217.074.055-1.0IN
                The University of Concepción, Chile funded CMR’s research (Proyecto de iniciación VRID 217.074.055-1.0IN). The funders did not influence, in any way, the design, data collection, analysis, writing, or the decision to publish these results.
                Special Report

                occupational cancer,risk assessments,health personnel,antineoplastic agents,cáncer profesional,medición de riesgo,personal de salud,antineoplásicos,câncer ocupacional,medição de risco,pessoal de saúde


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