Skip to main content

Cytostatic drugs

Cytostatic drugs belong to the group of "Especially dangerous drugs" and the use of cytostatic drugs is regulated by the Swedish Working Environment Authority in “AFS 2005:5”. Long-term or occasional extremely high, exposure may pose an increased risk of genetic damage and cancer.

For pregnant persons the unborn child may be affected, as well as children during lactation period.


Cytostatic drugs are a group of substances with different properties and character, acting with different mechanisms. Consequently, the degree of harmful exposure is very diverse, as are the symptoms.

When working with cytostatic drugs it is important to limit exposure by:

  • conduct written risk assessments before work with cytostatic drugs starts.
  • written handling, safety and disposal instructions appropriate for local prerequisites.
  • ensuring that the person doing the work with cytostatic drugs has the right skills (responisble is the manager/head of department).
  • provide training and courses (by the manager/head of department).
  • inform other local staff (for example cleaning personnel) about the nature of the activity and how to protect themselves.

Exposure and action

Contact with skin usually gives local irritations and allergic reactions and some drugs can also be absorbed through the skin and affect a whole body system.

Any deviations, incidents and accidents associated with cytostatic drugs should immediately be reported in writing to the responsible manager.


See KI rules for laboratory waste, section 1.2 includes "Cytostics and Pharmaceutical Contaminated Wastes", and section 2.5 includes "Discharge to drains".

For more information see AFS 2005:5 "Cytostatika och andra läkemedel med bestående toxisk effekt". (only in Swedish).