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PICC line vs Port

PICC line vs Port

Posted by Rlh178 on Jan 13, 2020 12:44 pm

My husband had a PICC line inserted at the end of August 2019 to receive his chemo, which he gets every 2 weeks.  In the beginning things went smoothly with treatment and no irritation to the site.  Over the past month he has had increased itchiness with a weepy rash that required his dressing to be changed every 2 days with gauze along with a dose of antibiotics.  Today, we saw the oncologist for his regular follow up appointment and the oncologist brought up the possibility of going to a port.  As the chemo is going well and at this point is the only option for treatment as surgery is not an option.  Has anyone started chemo with a PICC line and then switched to a port?  If so, was it a good choice to change it?  Would you recommend switching to a port?  Why or why not?  Thank you in advance! 

Re: PICC line vs Port

Posted by ACH2015 on Jan 13, 2020 1:09 pm

Hi Rlh178‍ 

Like so many here, I had a PICC line myself for just over 4 months myself during my chemotherapy. Fortunately (other than that itchy feeling, and a minor rash) I never suffered any infection.

The oncologist is likely suggesting the Port due to the infection issue with the PICC Line. Avoiding complications like infection is important, given chemotherapy reduces our natural immune system, and long term antibiotics usage are not recommended unless there is no other option.

I hope this helps, and I hope the chemotherapy continues to provide positive results for your husband.

Keep well, and take care of yourself.


Re: PICC line vs Port

Posted by Rlh178 on Jan 13, 2020 1:35 pm

Hi ACH2015‍,
Thank you for your reply.  I agree the oncologist is suggesting the port to reduce chances of infection.  He did state that most PICC lines are meant for 6 months and a port can be used for years... prognosis in the beginning was not very promising and my husbands improvement so far has surpassed the oncologists expectations... as I knew he would!!!  I also think the unknown of how a person will react to chemo is why they went with a PICC line first... maybe??? We understand that the chemo will be given to hubby for as long as it takes.... for as long as it works.  Hubby is settled in for the long haul... he says he is not going anywhere soon!  I guess he only worries about the extra pokes that a port will bring... which he liked not having with the PICC line, but having hospital staff fully trained on PICC line was hit or miss so the pokes did not stop completely.  I guess he needs to decide if it's worth changing... we are sure that if the nurses would let the PICC line dry fully before putting the bandage back on, the infection would have never happened in the first place.  I dont know how a port would get inserted.  Is it surgery to get it inserted? How long to heal?  Does it require regular care? And how often would we need to get care?  I dont even understand how a port would work in the first place.  How is.it different from just using a vein each time?  Is it easier for the nurses to use vs just poking a vein?  I guess I have a lot of questions!! 

Re: PICC line vs Port

Posted by Runner Girl on Jan 13, 2020 1:50 pm

Hi Rlh178‍ ,

I did not have a PICC or a Port, neither was offered to me.  All of my chemo (6) and Herceptin (18) treatments were done by vein.  Some of my veins were one and done, they could not be used a second time.  Old faithful was the vein close to the outside of my wrist bone, but when that one wouldn't stop bleeding when they removed the needle it became a problem.  I had to ensure I was really well hydrated and my body was warm, this produced the best outcome and the least needle pokes.  There were a few times when the initial nurse had trouble getting a vein and nurse 2 and 3 had to give it a shot.  

I would highly recommend going the Port route.

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: PICC line vs Port

Posted by ACH2015 on Jan 13, 2020 2:19 pm

Hello Rlh178‍ 

I looked up  some information for you. This link is from UHN website - What to expect when getting an implanted port. and gives both pictoral and written description about Ports and how they are inserted and used.

It is frustrating when complications cause us to look for solutions, but the good new is that there is a Plan B available to your husband toward continued chemotherapy, and not directly using a vein.

Like Runner Girl‍ said, you don't want to infuse chemo directly into a vein unless absolutely necessary. From my own experience, my left arm is now not usable for getting a vein for anything. The reason - three direct infusions of chemo (carbotaxol) before getting my PICC inserted.

Weigh the pros and cons with the pros - your oncologist is your best source if information toward if and when that PICC Line is causing more problems that its solving.

This thread https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewtopic/39/60052?post_id=284909#p284909 talks about PICC Lines and Ports in discussions from the site.

Keep asking questions, that's how we learn and share here my friend.



Re: PICC line vs Port

Posted by Essjay on Jan 13, 2020 3:06 pm

Hi Rlh178‍ I cant talk to a picc line, but i did have a port. I never had any issues with it and it made my life easier (I'm pretty active and kept this up as much as i could through chemo). Im pretty skinny so the port stuck out quite a bit. I found it a pain with seatbelts in the car and some clothing items but otherwise great. No problems showering, and really easy for the nursing staff to take blood and give me chemo (I had 8 rounds). 
Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor since July 2018

Re: PICC line vs Port

Posted by Treepeo on Jan 13, 2020 4:33 pm

I had 8 rounds of chemo and was not offered either a PICC line or a port.  My veins were fine until my last chemo treatment, when it was more difficult to find a good vein.  Then I had problems with my veins for the next 2 months or so, but after that they seemed fine again.

My sister had a port but asked to have it removed after her third chemo treatment.  She never felt right with it.  Also, she lost her hair twice as fast on the side of her body that held the port as opposed to the other side of her body.  She said it was eerie.  She also worried because it runs to close to your heart.

Inserting a port is a minor surgical procedure, but like any procedure, you can develop complications.  So do discuss any concerns with your doctor.

Re: PICC line vs Port

Posted by Tirednurse on Jan 14, 2020 9:38 am

I had a port put in in August 2019.  I had 4 rounds of chemo and now getting Herceptin every 3 weeks which will finish in August.  I wish everything about this journey was as easy as having this port. Once it's in and the small incision healed, you don't need to worry about it. It does stick out a bit but I haven't had any problems with seat belts etc.

Re: PICC line vs Port

Posted by Incureable on Jan 15, 2020 5:55 am

Hi.  Thanks for your input.   I am waiting for a port input.   I have had pic line before which was a lot more care with flushes weekly and movement of pic which had to be redone.   My concern is I have a  chemo session set for Monday and today is Wednesday and no appointment for port.input.  I am told it can be input the day before chemo which doesn't seem right.   There must be some healing required.   Comment please.   Mike incurable. 

Re: PICC line vs Port

Posted by Wendy Tea on Jan 15, 2020 9:03 am

Incureable‍  Please always feel free to ask your medical team the reasons why they do things or if a procedure is safe. In this case the area around the port doesn't need time to heal before the port can be used. Give your doctor a call and let them know you would like the port installed before your next treatment. You can confirm that the port can be used when you chat with the doctor. 
Best wishes 
Wendy Tea 
Healing takes time and opportunity. Wendy Tea

Re: PICC line vs Port

Posted by Marylaf on Jan 15, 2020 11:39 pm

I would choose a port. As someone mentioned, a picc needs cleaning every 7 days. 
I did my first set of chem in 2009 just in arm. Painful, by the end, my veins disappeared.
In 2015 I was diagnosed stage 4 br ca. I had a port put in 2016 and it has been a blessing. I am not sure what the person meant when they said it meant more pokes. Once the skin toughens over the port, there is no pain to being poked. It has never been infected since put in 4 years ago. It has to be heparinized every 4 weeks vs 2 for picc. There is no special care for patientto do, once it heals.
The port is installed by a radiologist and is a procedure not surgery.
I would advise anyone to use but especially if your arms have poor veins or metastasized for sure.