Your body evacuates the chemicals from chemotherapy mainly through your urine. Active residue from the medication stays in the body for 72 hours after administration, hence the need to observe certain precautions.
Additionally, your ankles or fingers may swell because you are retaining water and salt. This is known as oedema. The cortisone treatment preceding chemotherapy or associated with anti-hormone therapy is the most frequent cause of this phenomenon, though some kinds of chemotherapy are themselves directly responsible for water/salt retention.
Your weight is checked regularly to assess whether you are eliminating enough water. Your urine is also sometimes measured to see that sufficient amounts are being produced.
Certain forms of chemotherapy color your urine red, blue, green or bright yellow. The team will warn you about this effect which is of no importance for your health.
Signs to note
- The presence of blood in your urine.
- A burning sensation when urinating.
- A frequent or urgent need to urinate.
- An inability to urinate.
If you notice one of these signs, tell your doctor or care team straightaway.
Chemicals from chemotherapy stay in the blood for from a few hours to several days. Active residues are present in your urine, but also in your stools and all body fluids (vomit, saliva, genital secretions, sweat etc.). Those around you are advised to wash their hands or, even better, to wear gloves in case of possible contact with a body fluid. The treatment is beneficial for you, but those around you need to be protected from it, especially young children and pregnant women.
During your treatment and the three following days:
- Drink more the day before and during the days of treatment so as to urinate more often. That way your urine is more diluted and the active residue from the medication stays less time in contact with your bladder.
- Empty your bladder regularly as soon as you feel the need. Don’t hold it back.
- Wash your hands and ask those around you to do likewise or advise them to wear gloves in case of direct contact with your urine.
- Each time you urinate, empty and rinse the chamber pot or urinal (if you use one).
- Avoid any splashing on the edge of the toilet bowl. Men are advised to sit to urinate, both in hospital and at home.
- Clean the toilet seat with your usual household cleaner (in hospital with the spray provided).
- Do not use bleach. It has a toxic reaction with the chemotherapy residue.