Is it safe for children to be around chemotherapy and radiation patients?

A fellow caregiver asked...

my father will be given a chemotherapy to shrink down his lung tumor and hopefully the involved lymph nodes as well but we were told by his doctors if the chemo does not work then he will have to have full blast of radiation of the site area and hopefully both would work. Would the radiation be harmful for us who are directly involved in taking care of him in the house and would after the radiation would my children health wise be safe being around a chemo and radiation patient?

Expert Answer

Andrew Putnam, M.D. is a Palliative Care physician at Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University.

This is a question of radiation and chemotherapy safety. Radiation only affects people exposed to the source of radiation. So when your father is treated with radiation, it affects him but he is NOT radioactive. Other people around him are safe, children included. The same is true with chemotherapy. It affects the patient but others around the patient are safe.