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January 1, 1982

Hospital personnel who handle anticancer drugs may face risks

JAMA. 1982;247(1):11-12. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320260003001

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Although many antineoplastic drugs also are documented carcinogens, their therapeutic benefits usually far outweigh the potential risks to patients with cancer. But a recent study demonstrates that an unjustified hazard exists for another population exposed to chemotherapeutic agents—the hospital personnel who prepare them.

Jeffrey C. Theiss, PhD, of the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston, presented the results of the study at an international colloquium on cancer sponsored by the M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in Houston. Theiss and his colleagues examined urine samples of nine M. D. Anderson pharmacists for their mutagenic potential in the Ames test, which assesses the ability of a substance to induce revertants (mutants) in bacteria.

Abnormal results in the Ames test are often taken as an indication of the substance's carcinogenicity, but the validity of the test is still controversial. Although a high degree of correlation exists between the