Cytostatics are cytotoxic substances that are designed and used to cause cellular dysfunction, inhibiting the growth of cancer cells by altering their metabolism and blocking cell division and reproduction. Therefore, they are typically (but not exclusively) used in the pharmacological treatment of neoplastic diseases (chemotherapy). Owing to their mechanism of action at the cellular level, they can cause mutagenic, carcinogenic or teratogenic effects. The Health Service Rioja (Rioja Salud) published a detailed guidance document on the safe handling of cytostatics; its aims were to:
- establish safe working procedures for workers of the Health Service Rioja in the different areas of action related to the handling of cytostatic drugs, including the necessary personal protective equipment, to reduce risks and minimise exposure as much as possible;
- disseminate up-to-date information on the risk to workers of handling cytostatic drugs and their waste in all areas and jobs that are affected;
- ensure safety for the worker, the work environment, the medical staff and the patient.
A short set of guidelines is also available at the website of the Health Service Rioja: https://www.riojasalud.es/rrhh-files/rrhh/manejo-seguro-de-citostaticos-3169.pdf.