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Patient and Family Safety after Systemic Radiation

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 3, 2022.


Systemic radiation

is radioactive medicine that is given by mouth or into a vein. The medicine travels throughout the body and kills cancer cells. The radioactive medicine will stay in your body for several days. During this time the radioactive medicine can leave your body through your saliva, sweat, blood, and urine. It is important to protect others around you from being exposed to radioactive medicine. Radioactive medicine may harm healthy tissue and increase the risk for cancer in people who are exposed to it.

Protect your family and friends:

Ask your healthcare provider how long you need to do the following:

  • Flush the toilet twice after each use. Wash your hands well after you use the bathroom.
  • Use disposable utensils for eating and drinking. Do not share utensils with anyone.
  • Do not share towels or clothing with anyone. Ask your healthcare provider if your laundry should be washed separately.
  • Do not have sex or kiss others for at least 1 week after treatment.
  • Keep a distance of one arm's length from others at all times. You should do this with anyone that you spend more than 2 hours each day with. You may need to sleep alone for at least 1 week after treatment.
  • Stay away from infants, children, and pregnant women until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Radioactive medicine may cause birth defects in unborn babies.
  • Limit your contact with pets until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Radioactive medicine may make pets sick.
  • Drink plenty of liquids to flush the radioactive medicine out of your body faster. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.