Chromosomal Aberrations among Filipino Health Workers at the Chemotherapy Oncology Wards/ Clinics of a Tertiary Government Hospital

Corazon A. Ngelangel,1 Karen Villanueva-Timbol,1 Fatima dG. Fuerte,1
Beatrice J. Tiangco1, Susano B. Tanael Jr.1 and Ma. Luisa D. Enriquez2

1Section of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, College of Medicine and
Philippine General Hospital, Universityof the Philippines Manila
2Center for Natural Sciences and Environmental Research,
De la Salle University, Taft Avenue, Manila

Introduction. Chromosomal mutations are casual events in neoplasia development. Biomarker cytogenetic assays can determine exposure to mutagenic agents in occupational settings. This study assessed early biological marker chromosomal aberrations among health workers in the chemotheraphy oncology wards/ clinics, exploring its association to the subjects' occupational, environmental and baseline profile.

Methods. This was an IRB approved cross-sectional exploratory study among hospital personnel working in the chemotherapy oncology facility of a tertiary government hospital, who underwent structured interview and blood extraction for cytogenetic assay after informed consent. Study funds only permitted assay of 44 specimens of 144 planned sample size, hence, Stata 6.0 only analyzed data from 44 subjects.

Results. All 44 subjects had varying exposure to chemotherapy drug infusions. Of these, 79% had <0.8 breaks per cell (hyposensitive), 7% with 0.8-10 breaks per cell (borderline sersitive), and 14% >1.0 breaks per cell (hypersensitive). Predominantly chromatid breaks (CTB), chromatid gaps (CTG), sister chromatid exhanges (SCE) were seen. No significant association was shown between mutagenic sensitivity and baseline characteristics, but with small sample size.

Conclusion. 21% borderline to hypersensitive mutagenic sensitivity among oncology workers at the tertiary government hospital is relatively significant, despite small sample size, connoting a must preventive promotive practice of chemotherapy administration in the workplace.

Key Words: chromosome aberrations, chemotherapy oncology clinics