Chemo without a picc/port/hickman - anyone?

Has anyone been through chemo without a picc/port/hickman and had no problems ?
I have 5 more FEC to do and of course the blood tests in between and i really don’t want a picc/port etc but feel that i should to protect my veins.
Has anyone been through it without any of these and if so did you get any problems.

Hi beardie

I got through chemo without needing one. I had 4 EC then 4 tax, and started on herceptin with the tax. I had my surgery afer the chemo and when I went back after my surgery to continue the herceptin my veins had just given up, I think it was just all too much! So I had a hickman line put in. However if I hadn’t been continuing with the herceptin I would have got away with it.

Best wishes for your treatment xxx

Hi Mel. I’m not through it yet (3 down, 3 to go) but don’t have a line fitted. My arm is a bit sore and I can see a vein-shaped bruise right up my arm, but I’m going to persevere without as I don’t like the thought of having something attached permanently (or permanently throughout chemo!).

Are you getting herceptin? This is maybe the deciding factor, as its longer term (though at my chemo unit, many of the people on herceptin don’t have a line). I’m not getting herceptin, so I’m hoping I can get away without. I hate the blood tests and attempts at getting cannulas in each chemo (usually two attempts each go), but I think I would also hate having a PICC/Hickman. So am making do with sticking my arm in a basin of hot water for each chemo and drinking plenty of fluids.

Al x

I have a friend who finished FEC-T (three of each) a couple of months ago and she didn’t need a line or port and as far as I know had no pain from her veins.

My onc said it’s very hard to tell who’ll have a problem and who won’t, but after being told when my line was being put in that I have very small veins, I’m sure that’s got to be a factor in my veins giving up and one that they could probably have detected before I started. I had no idea my veins were small - I’ve given blood for years with no problems.

I was fine with FEC1 - no problems at all. After FEC2 my arm was very sore but the pain went away and by a couple of days after FEC3 I couldn’t straighten my arm at all and it didn’t get better (it’s only slightly better now, 6 weeks later). They also had problems getting blood from me when I had an infection after FEC1 so I suppose that was an early sign as it had never been an issue for me before.

This was despite all the heat pads they used and me drinking gallons of water!

I hope you manage to ge through without a line if that’s what you want, but they do have real advantages - having chemo and giving blood is much quicker and less stressful. I’d recommend that if you get any pain along your chemo arm (it feels bruised and achy and is tender to the touch), you should ask about a line as it’ll only get worse with each cycle.

Good luck!

Jane xxx

I had FEC x 6 without a line, including one admission with IV antibiotics. I had some problems after FEC3 with mild localised thrombophlebitis, but they always found a vein and none of the actual chemo infusions were a problem. The chemo nurses will say if they think you will run into trouble in my experience.

I had 6 FEC and one blood transfusion without a line and had no problems with any of them.

They used a vein on the back of my hand each time.

Hope this helps.

Thank you ladies xx

I’ve had 6 FEC and then 3 TAX with cannula, plus several contrasts by IV for CT scans. Veins coped ok and are recovering now. FEC seemed to be the most potent in damaging the veins (nurses said it would be) and sometimes veins were sore in places (including up near underarm)and I was advised to keep well hydrated and drinking lots of water seemed to relieve any pain. At one point a nurse found it difficult to find a “good” vein and suggested I’d need a line but the Sister came along and said not to worry my veins looked better than lots of people’s and found a vein easily (relief!) - my experience was that there were nurses who found it easy to cannulate and others that were not so good and I just hoped that I had certain nurses each time (that worry about who would do the cannula was the most tense part of the whole chemo treatment for me…). So my advice, and that of senior nurse, is to see how you get on as they didn’t want me to have a line unless really necessary. I’m now on Xeloda chemo and it’s in tablet form - hurrah!
Best wishes with your treatment

Hi Mel

I had 6 FEC last year with cannula and was fine. It was just the last chemo that it was a bit difficult to get a vein but we managed .

Hope this helps good luck with your treatment.

Love Anne

I too had no line and had 6x tch chemo followed by 18 herceptin and numerous cannulas for transfusions and intravenous anti biotics and ops etc since.
My veins are not good in my arm now, but after 2 1/2 years they still manage to find a vein just about, I am now having to have the viens near my elbow used.

Good luck with your treatment.