Is a Portacath really necessary?

Hi Ladies

I was diagnosed with secondaries in April last year and have now completed 7 months of chemotherapy (vinorelbine). It was suggested that I had a portacath inserted in August as my veins are quite useless and always have to be warmed up etc etc. However, this first application apparently went ‘astray’ and nothing was heard until last week. They now want me to have a portacath at this late stage - in fact I have had my last chemo for the time being ( although I do realise that more chemo is most likely on the agenda in the future).

Surely its too late to worry about having this done now - even though I know that I will have to carry on with the Herceptin at three weekly intervals. I just feel that I’ve been through enough procedures now - as we all have - mastectomy, reconstruction and then the horror of finding out about the secondaries and all that entails. This proposed portacath insertion just seems like the last straw. I must admit I am not at all keen on having this done as it sounds like quite an invasive procedure and I can’t help wondering if its more convenient for the staff than the patient! Does anyone agree with me or am I just being a complete wuss !! ?


Hi Linda
I had a port put in 28th Nov you can read all about it on the ’ Back on Taxol’ thread! me and ‘winking eye’ are due to separate Wed this week. I do not regret having it put in I only wish I had had it done before I started on avastin. I hate the hunt the vein game and I have had a black hand for the past 10 days. I dont know how much treatment you are going to need but veins only get worse not better. Well that is my experience, must admit not looking forward to having it removed!
Good luck with your decision.
Love Debsxxx

Hi Linda,

I would advise anybody to have one as it does save a lot of time and hassle and anxiety too when the nurses don’t have to look for a vein. I know Debs had a horrendous time with hers and could whack the nurse who caused it! I’ve had one since the beginning of my treatment, they put it in while I was having the mastectomy and I have never looked back. I don’t notice it being there and only think about it when it’s time for Zometa or chemo. Debs I’ll be thinking of you on Wed

Peggy x

Hi Linda

No…I don’t think you are being a wuss at all. It’s natural to think ‘OMG, just leave me alone for bit, will you’, when something like this is suggested.

I have had a Portacath for about 13 months now (and I understand they can stay in for years) and anyone who wants to take it out is going to have to fight me for it. They are state of the art, the Rolls Royce, of line delivery and not everywhere offers them yet.

I had it put in at the time of surgery, but I’ve had a line put in under sedation before as well, and that was no problem, either.

It’s the biz; so quick and convenient, yes, for the staff as well and the for patients after you who are waiting their turn, but most of all, for YOU! You can do what you like with one, swim, fly, go away, etc. As they need very little maintenance, you won’t have to schlep over your GP’s surgery or wherever at regular intervals to get it washed out, as is the case with a line. And best of all, you won’t have the painful prospect of nurses trying to excavate your veins.

It’s shame your application for one got ‘lost’ earlier, but I would still say ‘go for it’ now.



I have a Groshong Line - how is a Portacath different? It sounds better if you can swim and everything - no flushing?


Hi Gill
its under the skin - size of a 20 p piece at maximum I really would not be without mine,I can’t bear going for scans when they have to use my arm as it really hurts, I dont know how people put up with it. I know Debs experience has been horrendous but it seems that is to do with Avastin and one incompetent nurse and, its not the norm.

I would go for it, I dont notice it on a day to day basis at all.


Hi Linda, I too had a portacath inserted and, having had a Groshong line before which literally hung out of my chest, I thought it was brilliant. The only problem was that the insertion wound never healed and when they found out that I was allergic to the stitches they had used I had to have it taken out.

The surgeon was all for putting a new one in on the opposite side, but I told him I just didn’t want to be messed around with any more, at least just yet. So I am now back to hunt the vein every three weeks when I have my bisphosphonates.

I reckoned that if I have to go back onto chemo then it will more than likely be xeloda, which is oral, and since bisphosphonates don’t muck the veins up as much as chemo I was willing to go through the inconvenience of warming up, lots of stabs etc just to feel “normal” for a while. I know that if I have to have more IV chemo I will probably go back and ask for a port again.


My veins were fine during chemo. They started to deteriorate whilst on Herceptin. Herceptin isn’t toxic so it must have been the remains of the chemo in my body that ultimately knocked them for six. I have had a pik line in, but the trouble is, when you want to go on holiday and swim, out it has to come again. If you don’t want to swim then a pik line is perfect. I am now awaiting a portacath, - they don’t often advertise these, it goes under the skin so the risk of infection is minimal. There is no rush Linda, but it may be that you will get fed up with them trying to find a vein, and then you will know when the time is right.

Take care

Thank you ladies for your great help and info - as always. I certainly feel a bit braver now - knowing that most of you have experienced this and thought it was a good idea in the long run.

Love and best wishes.

Linda x

I love mine, yes another op was a horrid thought, but if you get it in now and your body has a chance to heal before anymore chemo comes your way then it would be a good thing in my opinion. Don’t even notice mine now to be honest and it makes infusions a breeze in comparison to the stabbing huntavein extravaganza that I used to have to endure.

Good luck Linda


Hello Lindap

My onc suggested that I have a portacath or line as they were having trouble finding a vein but I really didn’t want either and refused. I managed through 6 chemos and then a year of Herceptin without having a port or line.

I found that my veins started to recover quite quickly once chemo was finished and by the time I got to the 3rd or 4th Herceptin they were usually getting the cannula in first time.
Good luck with your treatment.
Anthi x

Thanks for all that info. If I have my Groshong Line out - as I hope - I will ask for a Portacath next time.

I just don’t like the ‘thing’ dangling out of me all the time, as a reminder and being careful showering and no swimming - still if it is giving me the stuff to keep me alive I will continue.

good luck all


Hi Gill,

that’s the good thing about the portacath. Nothing dangling and no restrictions on what you do. I’ve had mine for nearly 2 years now and I forget it’s there, apart from sending a little thank you to the surgeon who put it there every time I go for Zometa or chemo.