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The Clinical Oncological Society of Australia (COSA) guidelines for the safe prescribing, dispensing and administration of cancer chemotherapy


Ms Christine Carrington BPharm (Hons), Dip Clin Pharm, M Med Sci Clin Oncol, Division of Cancer, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Ipswich Road, Brisbane, Qld 4102, Australia. Email:


The issue of medication safety is highly significant when anti-cancer therapy is used as a treatment modality due to the high potential for harm from these agents and the disease context in which they are being used.

These guidelines provide recommendations on the safe prescribing, dispensing and administration of chemotherapy and related agents used in the treatment of cancer. The guidelines represent a multidisciplinary collaboration to standardise the complex process of providing chemotherapy for cancer and to enhance patient safety. These are consensus guidelines based on the best available evidence and expert opinion of professionals working in cancer care. The aim of these guidelines is to assist in the prevention of medication errors and to improve patient safety with respect to the treatment of cancer.

This guidance is intended for a multi-disciplinary audience and will have most relevance for medical, nursing and pharmacy staff involved in the complex processes of delivering chemotherapy and associated treatment. The scope of the guidelines includes; all patients and age groups receiving chemotherapy and targeted therapy for the treatment of cancer and cancer therapy administered by any route in both the hospital and home setting. These guidelines should be seen as point of reference for practitioners providing cancer chemotherapy services.