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July 12th, 2010
12:13 PM ET

Could health workers suffer 'secondhand chemo'?

A pharmacist who spent decades mixing chemo, a poison used to stop cancer, wondered if her occupation which required her to mix those drugs caused her to develop the condition, reports InvestigateWest, an investigative journalism nonprofit.

Sue Crump who died of pancreatic cancer in September at age 55,"was one of thousands of health care workers who were chronically exposed to chemotherapy agents on the job for years before there were even voluntary safety guidelines in place,” according to InvestigateWest.

The list of chemicals Crump worked with included cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, fluorouracil, methotrexate.

The report raises troubling questions about "secondhand chemo," in which medical workers who often come into contact, mix and deliver hazardous cancer drugs, could face health dangers.  For more, read the story.


soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Akin Jacobs

    I want to know if it is possible for a woman to give birth to a healthy child after being eight months pregnant?

    July 12, 2010 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • klwr333

      In response to Akin Jacobs: possibly. All three of mine were induced at 37 weeks (what most people would consider 8 months + one week) and were fine: normal size (they were induced early because of size), normal everything. Each week earlier than that, though, is considered "premature" and may have immature lungs or other problems.

      July 13, 2010 at 03:12 | Report abuse |
  2. dave_in_altmar

    Oh, why not – the topic is boring, anyway.

    My first grandson was born after just 32 weeks gestation (mother experienced preeclampsia and things were going downhill by the minute, so one emergency c-section later, mother and baby were in much better shape).

    Although he spent his first two weeks in a NICU, he's a normal, healthy little dude in every measurable way, and a total blast to be with as "grandpa" 🙂

    fwiw, the NICU's track record for preemies eventually "going home fine" was 100% once the chart hit 30 weeks. "8 months" is almost 5 weeks further along than that. I'd say – barring the unforeseen, of course: "no worries, mate!"

    Cheers!

    July 12, 2010 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Kim

    Does anyone else find it odd that they suspect that this woman's pancreatic cancer was caused by a drug that is supposed to treat cancer? Maybe I'm missing something, but I would think that having those drugs actually injected into your body over the course of weeks/months would be a lot worse than being exposed to them externally, although that probably isn't good, either. So I then have to ask, is it a good idea to treat cancer with chemo? Is that why people always seem to get cancer again later, but in a new location?

    July 12, 2010 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Melinda

      At least when they are being injected into a person, it's at a controlled dose and (most of the time) not for years on end. Health care workers receive the chemo through their skin, breathing, etc EVERYDAY for years. Who knows how much of the chemicals have entered into their system.

      July 13, 2010 at 00:08 | Report abuse |
    • Carol

      You are not missing something. I wouldn't be surprised if chemo is the reason people get cancer in other areas later. I have had a couple of friends who have had cancer. Those who refused chemo lived longer and had a better quality of life than those who took it. Come to your own conclusion about that. Funny how this article was dumped on a Friday. How many will actually read it?

      July 30, 2010 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.