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What is thiotepa?

Thiotepa (also known as Thioplex®) is an anticancer medicine. It is a clear liquid given by vein (IV).

Thiotepa can pose a health hazard to caregivers. All caregivers should take safety precautions while giving this drug. For 48 hours after this drug is given, the patient’s body fluids can contain the drug. During that 48-hour period, caregivers should follow safety guidelines when handling the patient’s vomit, blood, urine, and bowel movements, including diapers. These guidelines include wearing gloves when cleaning up body fluids. For a complete list of safety precautions, see “Do you know… Protecting caregivers from drug hazards.”

Possible side effects of thiotepa


  • Skin irritated at the IV site
  • Nausea and vomiting (with high doses)
  • Loss of appetite (not hungry)
  • Feeling dizzy and sleepy
  • Skin rash or open sores
  • Allergic reaction including headache, fever, hives, or skin rash

Later (usually more than a day after treatment starts)

  • Decrease in blood counts 10 to 14 days later
  • Mouth sores
  • Temporary darkening of skin (with high doses)

These are the most common side effects, but there may be others. Please report all side effects to the doctor or nurse.

In case of a severe side effect or reaction, call the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist at 595-3300. If you are outside the Memphis area, dial toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833).

Special instructions for thiotepa

  • Thiotepa can cause nausea and vomiting. The doctor may prescribe medicine to keep you from feeling sick and throwing up after you receive thiotepa.
  • It may be easier for you to get infections while you are receiving thiotepa. Stay away from crowds and people with colds, flu, or other infections.
  • This medicine may make your mouth sore. The doctor or nurse may give you oral rinses to keep your mouth clean after you receive thiotepa.
  • The staff will take blood samples regularly to check blood counts and liver function.

Skin care for thiotepa

Thiotepa can come through the skin as part of your sweat. You should try to protect the patient and caregivers from too much exposure to this drug. Follow these guidelines when the patient receives thiotepa, and keep following these guidelines for 24 hours after the last dose.

  • Thiotepa baths occur every 6 hours. The baths start 6 hours after the first dose starts. They continue until 24 hours after the last dose ends.
  • Use only soap and water for bathing. Be sure to rinse the soap off thoroughly. Dry skin folds well and carefully. Avoid rubbing; it may injure the skin. Pat these areas dry.
  • Change the patient’s clothes, linens, and central line dressing at every bath. Use povidone-iodine to clean the central line site while receiving thiotepa. Do not use Choraprep®.
  • A patient can use the same disposable blood pressure cuff during the entire course of thiotepa. Throw away the blood pressure cuff and replace it after the final bath.
  • If the patient is in diapers, change the diaper every hour. Wear gloves and do not use baby wipes. Clean the bottom with a warm moist washcloth only.
  • Do not use any type of moisturizer or barrier creams during this time.
  • Do not apply antiperspirants or deodorants.
  • Wear gloves when handling the patient’s linens and clothing.
  • All caregivers should wear long sleeves, long pants, or some type of covering, such as a small blanket. These are barriers between them and the patient’s skin.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).