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Treatment without port

Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2003

Was wondering if any of you went through chemotherapy without a port and how treatment went for you.

I will probably have a port put in next week and right now am just not looking forward to more surgery. Doctor says treatment usually goes better with a port.

What do you think?

jamjar62's picture
Posts: 135
Joined: Jan 2003

Hi there....I had a port put in during my lumpectomy. Looking back now that my chemo is finished and I'm facing another surgery to have it removed, I'm not sure I would do it again. At the time it was suggested, I was so fried from the news of having cancer, I just did it. I had 8 cycles of chemo...4 AC and 4 Taxotere. I have good veins and I think I would have been fine without the port.

The pros to having a port are: easy access to veins, no worries about the drugs burning your skin if they leak, blood can be drawn for your labs before chemo with just one stick.

The cons are: being on a blood thinner, 2 additional surgeries to put in and then remove, it is bothersome and pinchy, sometimes they don't work well anyway.

Something to consider, is how often and how long will your treatment be? The more often and the longer the treatment plan, the more I would say it might be worth it to have one put in. If I had just 4 cycles of CMF or maybe even AC, then I think I would have said no thanks.

Hope this helps somehow. Good luck and God bless.


Posts: 20
Joined: Apr 2003

I did 3 of my 6 Taxotere/Adriamycin/Cytoxan treatments without a port. Quite frankly, I tried and tried to get away without having one put in at all. I did not want surgery again, even minor. Plus I am petite and have a 2 year old and even though they said it would be beneath the skin, and not bother me, this wasn't true. I did fine on chemo without my port, I have really good veins. BUT, after the 3rd treatment, the adriamycin was burning my vein - it turned brown. So, they insisted that I get a port before the next chemo. I fought it, tried to get them to us my leg, etc :) The nurses told me how great it would be, how I'd only get stuck once, I wouldn't even know I had it, etc. So, I had the port put in. I hated it. It stuck out, my 2 year olds head hit it all the time when I was holding him - and it hurt!! The surgery was a breeze. Other then that like I said, every thing about it sucked. AND to top it off, the scar is terrible now. So, here's my advice. Try to do the chemo without a port - then if you have to get one later, it's only a short minor surgery and it can be accessed right away for chemo.


Posts: 84
Joined: Apr 2003

Hi Kathy, I had a port put in after the suggestion from my surgen, and talking to the onc nurses and dr. I think the main things to consider is first, how long is your chemo for. If you have alot of sessions ahead of you it could be worth it. Ends up I'm getting 52 weeks worth of herceptin which is done iv too, so it's more than worth it to me. Another thing is if your having adriamycin as part of your chemo. That stuff is really nasty on your veins, and if any leaks outside of you vein it can cause major damage to your arm. That's why they stand there and hand feed it, not through an iv drip, if it leaks and drops on your skin, it can eat your skin. Your trusting the onc nurse with alot, those guys do a great job, but mistakes happen. The last thing that swayed me is that because of the node disection under my right arm, they will only poke me in my left arm, thats alot for one arm to take. I haven't had amy problems with mine yet, I've had 4 a/c treatments and 2 of herceptin/taxol so far, and it doesn't really bother me. The surgery was no big deal either except I brused like someone had punched me in the chest. I feel like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction when they stick that needle in my chest - I think that should be my Halloween costume this year - but I find that it's really no big deal. Good luck and God Bless Jud

Posts: 19
Joined: Dec 2002

I just finished 6 rounds of chemo with a port. I had had bilateral mastectomy so my arms could not be used because of the risk of lymphedema. When I had my CAT Scan the nurses at the hospital tried for over 2 hours to get a good vein in my feet(2 sticks on one foot and 1 stick on other). The pain was unbearable-I was holding the gurney as tightly as possible and and yelling as they played around in my veins to place an IV for the CAT. The veins kept rolling over so we finally decided to do it in the arm-risk it once. I had my port put in the next week and it's been a dream. No more sticks to my skin. I put numbing medicine on it before labs but even without numbing medicine it's like a tiny beesting or less. It was daysurgery with a local so I was so out of it that I don't recall a thing. Afterwards I was very groggy and tired but recovery was quick. The more rounds of chemo you will have may determine your decision. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.


Posts: 3
Joined: May 2003

Hi Kathy: I have had breast cancer for 3 years and had a port placed during my mastectomy. Since I can only utilize my right arm due to the mastectomy on left side, it has been a blessing as my veins have literally disappeared from the chemo treatments. During remission, I did have to go in and get it surgically removed but the surgeon I have is so good about not putting me under anesthesia and it worked out great. I had to go back in last May to get it back in due to recurrence but I don't think I would take chemo any other way.Just having to get CBC's on a bi-weekly basis is enough for my veins. Good luck to you! Julie

Posts: 482
Joined: Apr 2003

My port was placed on 3/13 with the same kind of local lidocaine injection they give to put stitches in and only an antibiotic IV... no other medication. After placement of the port, they accessed it and I went downstairs to have the first chemotherapy. At this point, I don't even think about the thing being there. Oncology referred to it as a radiological procedure, not a surgery. It is sterile placement of an access device. Hope this helps a little. Hugs, Denise

Posts: 706
Joined: Jul 2001

Hi Kathy:

I had chemo without a port. Although they're small, I have good veins, so it really wasn't a problem for me. I did experience a few allergic type reactions to the Adria. which would cause my arm to get red and itchy during the push, but the addition of Benadryl in the IV solved that problem.

I did have a medi port about 13 years ago for treatment of Lyme Disease. The doc initially
inserted an IV line but after day 3 of treatment, I developed phelbitis in my arm so it had to be taken out. Since I had the portable pump and the IV infusion was round the clock, the port was the only alternative. My experience with it was not good.
I had the port for almost 8 months and during that time, had to have 3 debridement procedures as it would not heal properly. Next, the visiting nurse who came out to access it for the first time, couldn't get the needle placed. Just a lot of difficulties. Finally, I began to develop an infection at the internal catheter tip
and I refused any further treatment and marched myself to the surgeon to have the thing removed, immediately. I have a scar from the experience...probably more due to the debridements, but it's not major. Just somewhat wider than I'd expected. The surgeon who removed the port told me that the surgeon who placed it had not done it properly and that accounted for much of the difficulties. Who knows? At any rate, I would go to great lengths to avoid any further port experiences.

I do know several women who had ports for chemo and really had no problems. I think the frequency of treatment is an important factor to consider. Healthy veins, as determined by your doctor, should be able to withstand an every other week or every 3rd week of chemo. If difficulties arise, during your course of treatment, then a port may be your only alternative. If your doc says your veins are a go, then I'd encourage you to go for it and reserve the port option until and if it becomes necessary.

Good luck!

Love, light and laughter,

sandytrif525's picture
Posts: 107
Joined: Jan 2003

kathy, I had a port put in after my first chemo. I was really tired out from the chemo so I slept during the time it was put in. I had it for about a year. It did stick out, I am thin. My daughter said it looked like a stack of quarters in my chest and wearing tank type clothes was out. I had it removed after my radiation treatments were finished. It was a pretty easy surgery. The worst part was the numbing meds. They burned. I drove to get my daughter from college afterward. God bless and good luck. sandy

Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001

At 63 years old, I got thru 4 AC and 4 taxol without a port using my right arm. Where I went, the phlebotomists were marvelous - only had some trouble with the last infusion but it ws a stupid nurse - not me. After three tries, I asked for the supervisor who did it on his first try.

Sometimes the trouble is not caused by veins but by the inexperience of the infusion nurse or technician taking blood. They also used a butterfly needle routinely which is smaller and easier on the patient. When I had blood drawn a couple of times at other facilities, I did not use to have trouble but now do develop a temporary lump or bruise. At the cancer center, I only had a pin size mark for a few hours.

My advice if you have usually not had trouble before with blood draws would be to start without the port. Actually no one even mentioned it to me ahead of time.

Posts: 321
Joined: May 2002

Hi, during my first chemo in 1998 I had a port put in and taken out when the chemo was finished, glad I had it. Last year I was dx with BC in the other breast, had 34 rads and 6 mo of chemo. Again I had a port put in on the other side.Due to reconstruction Doc could not use the same area for the 2nd port. I still have it, it is NO bother at all except I have to get it flushed every 4-6 weeks to keep it clear which requires an RN and I have to go to the local hospital for that, because my Onc. is 2 hrs away. I also have bloodwork done at that time. I prefer the port. Yes there is a scar were the first one was and also the other one, but that does not bother me as they are fading. So this is my experience , hope this helps. Take care ((hugs)) emmi :-)

Posts: 24
Joined: Apr 2003

I had four treatments of Adriamycin/Cytoxin without a port. My doctor initially recommended a port, however the oncology nurse said that I had good veins and wouldn't need it since I was only getting 4 IVs. I had no problems and was glad the nurse said something. I only had one arm to use due to the axillary dissection, too. Good Luck, Mary

Posts: 41
Joined: May 2003

Hello. I wasdiagnosed in 1997 and went through initial chemo without a port (CMF+Adria). I had high dose + bone marrow transplant in 1998. The central line made treatment so much easier. Now I have relapsed with mets to many bones + liver. I had a port placed and it has made treatment easier. It is still uncomfortable to get the needle placed but at least they don't have to poke around to find a vein. I have to be on coumadin so the port does not clot. Scars don't bother me anymore so that's not an issue for me but, you sound to be very young so it may be a problem for you. Ask your doctor about a peripherally placed central line also known as a PIC line. It is placed in your arm and remains there. It does not requir surgery and can be used to draw blood as well as give you meds. It may be an option for you. Whatever your choice I wish you the best. KICK BUTT !!

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