Chemo, Herceptin and veins


I have had 3 FEC and am now about to start 3 TAX. Also have to have Herceptin. I am interested to know how many people have managed to have their treatment though their veins on one arm. My right arm is out of action because I has SNB. My veins are sore, I have a bit of cording and am wondering about a portacath but at the same time am wondering if it is possible to endure the whole treatment through veins.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Jane x

I would recommend a portacath, I had one and had all my treatment through it.

You say your arm is sore after 6 treatments, remember with Herceptin it is 18 treatments, that’s a lot, whereas a portacath just sits there and is totally painless to access.

I had mine taken out 2 weeks ago and already I only have a slight scar which I am sure will fade more in time.

Hi Jane

I managed FEC (x3) - T (x3) through my veins, but they were pretty rubbery by the end of it. If I was having herceptin as well I would have pushed for a portacath.

I finished chemo last July and you can still see the contraction of my veins in my left arm.

Good luck

Thanks for your comments - I am seeing Onc tomorrow so will see what he says.


Had FEC(4), Tax(4) and herceptin(18) through veins. Never offered anything else. Got a bit iffy towards the end. Dreaded getting the ham-fisted nurse on the chemo suite who wasn’t very good at finding a vein (there’s always one, isn’t there). The back of my hand wouldn’t work by the end and they had to find a vein up the side of my thumb or on the inside of my wrist.


I had 3 x fec, 3 x tax + 18 herceptin, finished Jan this year. Had all the treatments on my left arm/hand and wrist. It can be done but my veins are now pretty bad. By the end of treatment it was a bit difficult to find a vein that would work but managed, a heat pad was a great benefit. Only thing is I need to get my bloods done shortly (to sort out a thyroid imbalance) and dreading it. The veins on the inside of my elbow are non-existent.

I would give it a go (obviously after speaking to your onc and nurses) but if things get difficult you can always decide halfway through treatment.

Emma x

Hi Jane, good thread.

As you know I get my PICC line in on Monday. My left arm is so sore, can’t straighten it and my hand is one big bruise. I had mx on right side so it’s a no go but they did end up using it once, the chemo would just not go in the left side. Onc said its not a good idea though. Now they even have probs getting blood from me. My right hand is also all bruised with trying for blood. My hands look lurvely lol.

My veins will be so glad of the rest. I have two more chemo then herceptin.

I am thinking even for a couple months as I just can’t stand any more prodding. Last time they were jumping from one vein to another.

Let us know how you get on tomorrow.

Ann x

I have my last chemo on Friday but will still be having herceptin till next March. My veins are compleatly knackered. They tried to put a picc line in and failed then I was going to have a hickman but the practioner said I might get away with not having one as tax was not as bad on veins as FEC. Today in clinic today they stuggled to get blood and ended getting it from inside my wrist. A hickman line was mentioned again but they decided to give tax in bad arm and herceptin in knackered vein arm. If they cant find a vein then its a hickman.
Chemo has nuked my veins. They say they will recover but I have my doubts.

Anne x

I had a portacath fitted as my veins gave up after the first FEC. I has 2nd chemo through the cath.
I too am having herceptin and dont thinky my arm would be in any fit state if i didnt.
It still hurts from the first one. Plus they can use the portacath to get blood out etc…
I personally would say get a line put in.

Hi There,I was positively encouraged to have PICC. They took one look and shook thir heads !! I’'ve had all my bloods through it 5 chemo and 1 herceptin, another due tomorow. Doesn’t cause much hassle apart from covering it for bath/shower, I hope it lasts until Feb 2013 when last herceptin due! Any one know how long they can stay in for ???

I just wish that anyone who has to have FEC-T and herceptin is advised to have a portacath from the start. After 3 FEC my veins had had enough so in went the portacath for the docetaxel and herceptin and life is soooo much easier now, but too late to save the veins. 8 more herceptins to go now!

Hi, bit late to this as you’ll have had your appointment by now, but just to say I appear to be the exception. No surprise there then! ;o) I had 4 EC, 4 Tax, and am now just over halfway through Herceptin, having had 10 of 18. I didn’t have a line and, touch wood, my veins have been fine so far. Fingers crossed they continue to last out!

Hi. Sorry I didn’t see you post earlier. I had 3 Fec and had phlebitis. My veins were very ‘woody’ and my arm was sore and I couldn’t straighten it but I went on to have 3 tax and have had 17 Herceptin without a port. I have had to avoid the lower arm but had no problem with the tax or Herceptin and these drugs have been much kinder on my veins. I was offered a port after Fec but for me, i felt that the damage was already done, and everyone is different but, I didn’t want the constant reminder of being a patient. That is what a port would have felt like to me. My veins from fec still look a little darker than normal but there is no pain now. Good luck with your decision hon xx

Thank you all for your comments. Saw onc yesterday and he thinks my veins are looking good and actually my arm is less sore now. I am going to see how things go after first TAX but he says that anytime I want I can have a portacath fitted so that’s reassuring. It is encouraging to hear that a few have made it all the way through with their veins.

Ideally I would like to try and avoid one if I can so we will see what happens. Good news is that my tumour is responding well to the chemo and has shrunk from 3.7cm to 1.6 cm after 3 x FEC so I am feeling positive.

Jane xx

Thats fab news re: the shrinkage. :slight_smile:

That’s great news Jane, makes it all worth it!

Joan xxx

Hello, Just to clarify… it is my understanding that Potacaths are usually in the chest and require sedation to be inserted where as PICC lines are in the arm (like mine). Easily inserted and I forget its there !

And you can also forget that a portacath is there too as totally hidden under the skin so you can swim, shower, bath etc without any risk of infection and nothing on view either. I don’t remember a thing about having mine inserted and thought I was chatting away to the Doctor the whole time.

Herceptin goes in and blood samples can come out. The only downside seems to be that there is a lack of training in accessing them from staff outside of chemo units. I may have the correct port, but I still need a cannula when it comes to muga-scans, ct scans or mri scans so I still have to play the occasional ‘hunt the vein’ game!

After 6 FEC and 1 herceptin my veins finally gave up the ghost - or maybe the staff at my unit got fed up of hunting them!

I’m having a portacath fitted on Monday - the nurses went straight for this option rather than PICC or Hickman as it is far less obtrusive in the long run.

I am having a Portacth fitted next week. I have had chemo but I am on Herceptin for as long as it keeps working(hopefully many years).
My veins seem to disappear when I reach the chemo unit, My appointment should only take an hour at most but sometimes I have been there for 3 hours whilst they play hunt the vein.I have been told I will have a local anesthetic , but can have some sedation if I think I need it.I hope they will be able to use it for my next infusion , which will be 6 days later.