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INFECTION CONTROL IN CANCER PATIENTS

Q) Why is infection control important in cancer patients?


A) Infection control is important in cancer patients, as they low immunity due to the various
treatment regimes (chemotherapy, radiotherapy) which lowers the body's ability to fight infections.
Also, the patients may have intravenous lines that may be invaded by the germs.

Q) What are the ways to control infection?


A) Hand washing is the single most important measure in preventing the spread of infection.
Routine handwash requires that hands should be thoroughly lathered for 10-15 seconds and then
washed in running water. They are then thoroughly dried with a "dry" towel. It is important to
remember that wet hands are worse than unwashed hands.

Other ways to control infection are based on cleanliness & sterility. Vacuum cleaning is
recommended over brooming to prevent dispersal of dust. Alternatively, damp dusting or cleaning
is acceptable, Patient care items viz. bedpans are stored dry.

Q) What additional precautions should be used in patients with a low blood count?
A) In addition to general measures, the patients with a low white cell count should be in a private
room as far as possible. Persons entering the room should wear masks. Persons with respiratory
infections should not be allowed inside. Plant and flowers are not allowed in the room. The patient
should wear a mask when travelling to other areas of the hospital.

Q) Should children with cancer on therapy be given vaccines?


A) These children are immunocompromised and it is better to avoid all immunizations. Live
vaccines are contraindicated during chemotherapy. In most cases, routine childhood vaccination
can be given 3- 6 months after the completion of chemotherapy