CDC Protects Cancer Patients from InfectionsCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent this bulletin at 10/25/2012 05:31 PM EDT
Each year, more than one million people are treated in a cancer clinic, and more than 60,000 cancer patients are taken to a hospital due to infection. October is the one-year anniversary of CDC's Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients Program, which helps raise awareness about the importance of preventing infections in this vulnerable group. Learn how to prevent infections better with these resources—
- Web site for cancer patients: PreventCancerInfections.org.
- Educational materials for patients, caregivers, and doctors including posters, brochures, and videos.
- The Basic Infection Control and Prevention Plan for Outpatient Oncology Settings that can be tailored to a clinic's needs.
How to prevent an infection during chemotherapy1. Prepare: Watch Out for Fever
If you get a fever during your chemotherapy treatment, it's a medical emergency. Take your temperature any time you feel warm, flushed, chilled, or not well. If your temperature is 100.4°F (38°C) or higher for more than one hour, or 101°F (38.3°C) or higher for any length of time, call your doctor right away.
2. Prevent: Clean Your Hands
Dirty hands are especially dangerous when you're getting chemotherapy treatment because your body may not be able to fight off infections like it used to. You and anyone who comes around you should clean their hands often. Use soap and water to wash your hands, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available.
3. Protect: Know the Signs and Symptoms of Infection
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of the following signs and symptoms of an infection—
- Fever (this is sometimes the only sign of an infection).
- Chills and sweats.
- Change in cough or a new cough.
- Sore throat or new mouth sore.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nasal congestion.
- Stiff neck.
- Burning or pain with urination.
- Unusual vaginal discharge or irritation.
- Increased urination.
- Redness, soreness, or swelling in any area, including surgical wounds and ports.
- Pain in the abdomen or rectum.
- New onset of pain.
Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention