Increased sister chromatid exchange frequencies in lymphocytes of nurses handling cytostatic drugs.
In oncology units, personnel handling chemotherapeutic drugs may occasionally be exposed to small amounts of genotoxic agents. This exposure was obviously the cause of the increased frequencies of sister chromatid exchange (SCE) observed in nurses in daily contact with cytostatics (N = 20, mean SCEs/cell +/- SE 9.4 +/- 0.3) as compared to a group of office workers (N = 10, mean SCEs/cell 8.1 +/- 0.3). The oncology nurses also had a higher SCE frequency than other hospital nurses (N = 10, mean SCEs/cell 8.7 +/- 0.2), but this difference was not statistically significant. The SCEs of patients under chemotherapy were about five times higher (mean SCEs/cell 36.8 +/- 0.6) than those of healthy subjects.