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burning veins

survivor_2_survivors's picture
Posts: 8
Joined: Apr 2010

Just had my first oxaliplatin chemo yesterday and my veins on each arm felt like they were burning. Any one else have this happen to them? I start Xeloda tonight. I had colorectal cancer resection 2 years ago with chemo but only could get through 4 treatments out of 12. Then Jan this year had lung surgery to take out a tumor and now chemo for 6 months. I am having lots of other side effects like headaches, tingling in mouth, hands and feet, feel like throwing up. Most of all I can't seem to wrap my mind around this whole cancer ordeal.

abrub's picture
Posts: 2178
Joined: Mar 2010

I noticed the pain in my veins after stopping chemo when I needed an IV and couldn't tolerate it. I still have problems with blood draws and IVs (the needle/canula once it's placed, not the insertion) and prep with lidoderm. I'll be doing that for my CT scan on Monday. However, I noticed no pain during the infusions. Tingling everywhere - yes.

Make sure your dr gives you plenty of anti-nauseants. The latest research (scientific/medical journals in May, 2009) show that 1000 mg of ginger (available in capsules) greatly enhances the effects of the anti-emetics.

I, too, am having trouble getting my mind around this cancer thing, and it's been 3 years now. It's just too big to comprehend.

Good luck to you!

abrub's picture
Posts: 2178
Joined: Mar 2010

Several people commented on the advantage of a mediport with, and I wanted to re-emphasize. A port makes chemo MUCH easier. There is no searching for veins, and they'll use it for your blood draws as well. You can also request a numbing cream (Emla) to put over it, so that when they access your port, it will be painless.

A port ensures that the oxali goes into the vein; that there is no leakage around it.

A few more suggestions to minimize side effects from the Oxali: ask if they can slow the infusion in a more diluted solution. They did that with me, infusing over 6 hours instead of 2 in triple the amount of saline or dextrose, I don't remember which they use. You can try with 3 or 4 hours, instead of 2. Yes, you're there longer, but if it makes the process easier, it's worth it.

Also, you may find that plastic flatware or wooden chopsticks is easier on your hands than metal, which always feels cold.

We're here with you all the way.

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi there

Do you currently have a medi-port installed? Or a picc line?

Initially, it sounds like you might be getting chemo via IV into a vein. Oxaliplatin is a very caustic drug and can really do a number on the veins.

If you do not have a port, I would highly recommend having a vascular surgeon install one - it will make administration of the Oxy much easier to tolerate as far as infusion.

The side effects you are feeling, are more than likely coming from the Oxy chemo itself. There is alot of cold sensitivity associated with taking this. Hands, fingers, and feet and toes can feel prickly, or like an electric shock. Also, drinking cold drinks of any kind, will be very uncomfortable as this drug affects you in that way.

You can drink room temperature drinks to help ease that closed up feeling in your throat. Just let it sit out awhile to warm up and try that.

If you go in the fridge or freezer, put on a pair of gloves so that your hands are not exposed to the cold - this will help you.

You can ask your oncologist about MAGNESIUM SULFATE. This is infused with Oxaliplatin - it does not work for everyone, but if it does work for you, it will help ease the above situations and you would be able to drink cold drinks right away and the pain you are feeling in your hands and feet (neuropathy).

Xeloda is 5fu in a pill form. It is mostly tolerated, but can be very hard on the stomach in some people - anti nausea meds will help that. And Xeloda can be very hard on the feet as well and sometimes the fingertips.

What you can do there, is go by a tin of BAG BALM at a CVS or Walgreens, or perhaps your local pharmacy would have this. It's a very greasy emollient that will help moisture your feet while you're on this treatment. What you do is apply it to your feet liberally 3x a day - morning, noon, and evening. Put socks on over your feet to hold the moisture in - this will really help you before you begin to develope cracked and split open feet. Get started on this now, and you can head off problems that would occur without it.

You look young, nice picture! Youth will work in your favor as you move on with your treatments. Just take each day as you can, do the treatments, and then after you feel better. try and do something for yourself.

Cancer can be a roller-coaster ride at times, and a marathon at other times. The key is to have your mind right to fight - and be prepared to go the long haul. Sometimes, it takes longer than one would expect. You can do this - it won't be easy, but the good things in life seldom are.

Welcome to the board and post any questions that you have and we will all try and walk you through this. You won't be alone:)


Posts: 965
Joined: Nov 2008

I have heard that the chemo can burn via PICC line. I believe that if you have a subcutaneous port in your chest that you don't get the vein burning. I did not have any burning during my infusions.

I know it is hard to get one's head around the idea of cancer, and in your case, a reccurence. Unfortunately you have little choice in the matter. It is like football. You don't want a distracted QB. Well you are the QB in this case and you need to focus your physical and mental energy into your body and treatment. Maybe a few minutes a day put aside for feeling down. But once those few minutes are up, get focused on what you need to do.

Posts: 827
Joined: Jan 2010

I am a survivor too and wanted to welcome you. I wish I had known of this group when I first started chemo...would have helped so much.

Everyone gave you good advice but I wanted to add that in addition to not drinking cold things or holding cold things in your hands, try not to breathe the cold air from fridge or freezer or from air conditioner vents. It can cause spasms in your throat and/or bronchial tubes and you'll feel like you can't breathe. If that should happen, and it might or might not, put your hands cupped up to your mouth & nose and breathe into your hands.My onc nurse told me to do this and not to panic...it will pass.

Best wishes. Hope this time your chemo goes well.


Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2009

when port twice failed to work and oxy was injected into wrist area (I think it was by wrist--that was preop)Used picc for postop Folfox. Had it been my left arm that was used I would have thought by how pain spread up arm that I was having a heart attack or something. If you don't have one, as has been suggested, get a port or picc as you'll have enough to concern yourself with than burning from infusions in vein, if thats whats being done currently....Hoping you get good results....steve

PS: You're just starting out it seems; believe me, it DOES get better; you can beat this; think positive,be strong, as difficult as that may become....

Posts: 810
Joined: Nov 2009

I agree, try and get a mediport. As much as I did not want one, it was the best thing to have to adminster the chemo. I got used to it and once they acess it a few times, it get alot easier. I did not ever use the numbing creme, my chemo nurse was awesome and was able to hit it every time.

Buzzard's picture
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

The port (mediport) is an awesome piece of machinery about the size of a quarter and snugs up by the collarbone nicely, introducing the chemo infusion to the vein then to the heart and out into the system. After 2 years they did draw enough blood out of mine the last checkup so that they didn't have to stick me in the arm also. That was good...Xeloda has different side effects that I can't answer for you, I have not taken that route but others here have and can clue you in on what to look out for and remedies for repair.
The headaches to me I think were stress induced and simple Tylenol took care of it.The tingling was directly related to the oxy, unless of course the tingling doesn't subside and turns out to be an allergic reaction (in which case you would know)but being in the hands and feet tell me that it is the side effect of the oxy and it needs to be watched by you very closely to assure that permanent neuropathy (nerve damage) is not done. Its just the lesser of two evils in this case. The nausea is usually controllable to a great degree. It depends on the persons tolerence , and the meds provided. I did compazine, no good for me, Zofran, again no help, Anzemet, notta, then emend, best but still sick for 4 days. I did my chemo in 4 hrs doses in which I have heard 2-4-6-and 8 hr infusion times. The slower the less side effects a person seems to have.
Last but certainly not least is the mental side of this ordeal.....as I think, Life does have a pretty poor prognosis but once you wrap your head around that (that death is unescapable for everyone sooner or later) and you really take it seriously, then you admit to yourself that you are not immortal and that someday you will pass on as everyone will sooner or later. Until you are faced with a life threatening illness then you are not faced with the reality of your true mortality. Then when it hits us in the face it is unthinkable, uncontrollable, and unimaginable...and the individuals ability and desire ( or necessity)to control all things are thrown into the abyss, meaning that in this journey with cancer we control nothing, so our fear of loss without any control is threatened and no matter which way you turn you are in the right lane going left or the left lane going right. You will find (and you may already have) that every detail in life needs to be enjoyed, everything that we take for granted needs to be held in high consideration and enjoyed, and the fact of the matter is this, it don't matter if you are a pauper or a pope, the prognosis is the same in life so take what life throws at you, enjoy the longevity of it, and forget the prognosis of life. There is nothing you can do about it so why waste the time worrying, there are to many other things to enjoy....renegotiate your thought process completely and quit thinking the sky is falling, its not, its simply giving you the opportunity for a different view.....Love and Hope for you and yours, Clift

KATE58's picture
Posts: 300
Joined: Nov 2009

I had a chemo port put in before they even started chemo.
no burning.
My sister did not have a port installed until after her 4th
treatment and she complained of burning and her vein looked brown.
I can't believe they do it directly into your arm vein.
I believe ( someone will correct me if i am wrong )
that the port goes into an artery.

ADKer's picture
Posts: 150
Joined: Aug 2008

My oncologist wanted me to avoid a port if possible in order to avoid one more foreign object in my body with a risk (in hindsight, minute risk) of infection. I tried a few infusions of oxaliplatin through iv's in my arm. It was excruciating. I received irinotecan after the oxaliplatin infusion and had to have an additional iv needle in my other arm in order to get through it. I had a port installed and had no more pain; no complications whatsoever.

Buzzard's picture
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

Here ya go ...

A chemo port is a thin, soft, plastic tube surgically implanted into a vein in your chest or arm. It allows healthcare professionals to draw blood and deliver chemotherapy drugs directly into a vein without having to insert an IV needle each time. The chemo port produces a small bump under your skin.

Also Known As: port, port-a-cath, subcutaneous port, implantable port, chemotherapy port

It is introduced into a vein as a supply so that the heart can pump it to all systems...

PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

Do yourself a BIG favor and get a midi-port. They make all of the difference in the world. I hear you with the cancer thing and how it can be hard to wrap your mind around it. Try to remember that you have cancer, cancer doesn't have YOU!

Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2010

Burning Veins,

I read your post and wanted to pass along this educational website that my mom and several friends have found to be helpful when considering a Port, PICC, etc. for their chemo treatment. My mother had breast cancer 2 years ago and after her first round of chemo decided that the 8 needlesticks she endured in her arm was just not worth it to get chemo and moved to a port for the remainder of her treatment. For her it was a great choice that made her treatment a little easier because she wasn't getting stuck in the hand and arms over and over again. There are several great options out there, if you are interested in a little internet research, the website is www.veins4life.com, I hope it helps.

herdizziness's picture
Posts: 3642
Joined: Apr 2010

I understand the burning. Mine even hurt so much that I believe a feather touching my arm would be unbearable. This is my fourth Oxi and I'm definitely talking with my Oncologist about the burning. They have to take the IV out and stick it in the other arm to finish. (I'm there for 8 hours). Putting a hot pad on the arm helps, but only while the hot pad is on. My right arm from the first oxy and burning has a large long bump where my vein is.
Today, my left arm still hurts to the touch from this last Tuesday's chemo. I end up getting poked twice every chemo, as they remove it from the vein that's burning and go further up the other arm to finish.
As for the nausea, I've gotten where I can't stand the taste of the pill they gave me, so I switched to "special" brownies, they help a lot!!!!! Thank goodness I'm in California and could get a medical card for them. So far they are the only thing that as really helped my nausea (I didn't get nausea the first two chemo's and thought I wouldn't ever get it, the last two chemo's have taught me differently).
Like you, I still am having trouble wrapping my mind around this cancer crap as well.
I know it sucks, and it seems unreal, but we have to hope for the best, do our best to keep our minds looking forward to the sun rising, a lazy rainy day, laughter and our loved ones.

chicoturner's picture
Posts: 285
Joined: Apr 2009

HI, The cold was very much a factor for me during my days of oxy, but also heat was an issue. Be careful during the hot months, as I put my hands on my steering wheel immediately after an oxy treatment and really burned my hands. My onc said he had not heard of it, but the nerves are so sensitive. I got a steering wheel cover and was good. As for wrapping your mind around all of this, well, somehow you just live day to day and some days you might not dwell on it so much. When that happens, be proud of yourself and know you are stronger then you thought! Keep up the good fight! Jean

Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6722
Joined: Feb 2009

Fortunately that didn't happen to me. Just echoing the rest of the group about whether or not you have gotten a port put in. That would make such a big difference in how the chemo is administered. Oxi is a nasty drug and it makes all kinds of side effects. Hope you feel better soon. Remember the gloves when going in the fridge.


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