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Start planning now to attend the 2014 AOHP National Conference in New Orleans from September 10-13, 2014. It is never too early to make plans and to ensure that your time and expenses are budgeted to attend. If you need help to justify your conference attendance with your supervisor, contact AOHP Headquarters for assistance in articulating the value at info@aohp.org. Online Registration is now open:  http://AOHPconference.com.

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Thursday, September 11 • 1:40pm - 3:10pm
A004 Chromosomal Effects In Oncology Personnel Handling Anti-Cancer Drugs (Intermediate)

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Topic Overview:

The DNA-damaging effects of treatment with anti-cancer chemotherapy resulting in therapy-related myelodysplastic syndrome and acute leukemia (t-MDS/t-AML) have been recognized for more than 30 years. Concern for the health of cancer caregivers who handled these drugs has also been raised as scores of monitoring studies have documented drug contaminated work areas and worker exposure using post-shift biomonitoring, measures of genotoxicity and in epidemiologic studies of increased reproductive loss. While safe drug handling practices were promoted during the 1990s, concern has persisted that the risk has not been fully addressed. To assess current conditions, a comprehensive exposure assessment study of oncology pharmacy and nursing personnel was performed. Forty-six non-exposed and 63 exposed healthcare workers at three U.S. university hospital cancer centers, all of which reported use of recommended safe handling practices, were enrolled in the study. Sixty percent of 145 total wipe samples demonstrated at least one of the five drugs at concentrations above the limit of detection. Three of the 63 urine samples had measurable concentrations of chemotherapy drugs present. Fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH) was used to assess chromosomal abnormalities in exposed workers. Excess aberrations (numerical and structural) were observed in exposed workers as a function of drug handling frequency, reaching statistical significance for chromosome five (p=0.014.) These signature findings suggest that biologically important exposure and risk persist for oncology workers despite endorsement of safe handling policies.   



  1. Describe the evidence for the genotoxicity of anti-cancer chemotherapy in treated patients.
  2. Relate the specific chromosomal targets associated with various chemotherapy drug classes.
  3. Discuss the sufficiency of current safe handling policies and methods to bolster worker protection in light of recent evidence of on-going exposure.

avatar for Melissa A. McDiarmid, MD, MPH, DABT

Melissa A. McDiarmid, MD, MPH, DABT

Melissa A. McDiarmid received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, in Biological Sciences, her MD from the University of Maryland at Baltimore, and her MPH from The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where she also completed fellowship training in Occupational Medicine. She is board certified in Internal Medicine, Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. Dr. McDiarmid was Director of the Office of Occupational... Read More →

Thursday September 11, 2014 1:40pm - 3:10pm
Napoleon Ballroom 3/F

Attendees (8)