My doctor is recommending i have a portacath inserted. Any advice please

I am halfway through 6 cycles of Taxotere, Cyclophosphamide and Herceptin. When this finishes, I will go on to just the Herceptin for a year. My doctor is recommending a portacath. I am loathe to have yet another scar but if it is going to make life a lot easier and healthier then that’s fine with me. If anhbody has any advice to offer, I will be glad to hear from you.

Hi Carolina,

YES YES & YES AGAIN :slight_smile:

I had a portacath since last year and it is the best thing I ever did. But then my situation is different cos I have to have drugs permanently now. Some surgeons do the proceedure differently. Mine was done at the Royal Marsden in London and he did a fantastic job. Some do two small cuts - one by the neck and the other lower on the chest, but mine was just a one inch cut on the chest with 2 small holes and it is hardly visible. The portacath is visble as a small bump under my skin as I have had mastectomies and very little flesh to disguise it. The insertion of the needle for the drugs is just pressure against the bump and you can have numbing cream on before hand if you are a bit sensitive but I dont bother. It has made life so much simpler for me.


I agree with Dawwnhc, I have had mine for nearl a year and its great. Easily accessed, not painful and no bruised arms an hands

I’ve also got a portacath and have had it for four years now and it’s the best thing that I’ve had! Mine is a very small scar about six inches down from under my arm but I think a lot of the surgeons are now putting them on the chest wall as they can do it under local rather than general anesthetic. You can’t see the scar where the tube goes in at all.

My oncologist was telling that she’d heard that there might be a portacath than can withstand the contrasting dye that some of us have with a CT scan. At the present time with mine I have to be canulated because it would blow the tube!

Hi pinkdove,

I am sure there is some sort of ‘pressure port’ which can be used for CTs too. Some women on bcmets definitely have them. Don’t know about availability in the UK.


Hi Carolina

Here’s the link to the Cancerbackup page which provides information and illustrations about portacaths, hope you find it helpful:

Best wishes

The article Lucy has linked to here is good and informative but I do wish sometimes they would include proper photographs rather than just these line drawings. I think people who are considering having a port, and indeed hickman or picc lines really want to know how it is going to look on them. I took photographs soon after mine was inserted along with the type of ‘needle’ used to access it (helpful chemo nurse gave me one to take away and photograph)and put them up on the other site so folk could see the real thing.


Hi Carolina,
I had a bradport [which I think is just a brand of portacath] in 10 days ago it’s just under my collar bone and the scar is just a small straight horizontal line [no puckers] perhaps an inch or possibly a tiny bit more long. I don’t think it’ll show much if at all ?.
Mine felt most odd and uncomfortable straight after the op…bit of a whopper of a bruise and I wasn’t sure what to make of it, was uncomfy{not painful] but I’ve just realised that it’s settled very nicely now, doesn’t hurt, isn’t uncomfy anymore, bruise gone, and unless I press my finger on it I’m not aware of it being their anymore [you can feel a small sort of disc just under the skin …about the size of the tiny 5p/a dime] OK I forgot it was there

mine gets it’s first use next week [gulp] they could’ve used it during a test last week but I didn’t know the nurse so didn’t let on that I had one …crazy aren’t I…???lol

Basically if I were you I’d go for it :0)

A nice nurse at the hospital rec slapping some emla cream [a topical anesthetic.Lidocaine/prilocaine} over the port 1 hour below first jab as then it’s totally pain free…,sounds good to me[but then she’s the only nurse I’ve met that applied local A before attacking my veins… painfree woman yes]

Hi Carolina,
i’d say yes, grab it with both hands. I’ve had one since last summer and it’s brilliant. Completely sealed so no problems with infection/swimming. Just takes me by surprise sometimes if I catch it with my hand, as most of the time i forget it’s there. I imagine it as a polo mint under the surface! It’s definitely transformed the whole ‘searching for a vein’ fiasco for chemo or now herceptin.
Good luck and hope you have a smooth journey

Portocaths are great!!! I have just had mine out because they don’t anticipate giving me any chemo for at least a year (yay!!!) but I only let them take it out on condition that I could have it back if I have chemo again.
They put mine in under a local but gave me some sort of happy juice before hand so I was conscious but on cloud 9. It made a tiny lump under my skin but the scar itself was tiny. Now it’s out I can fee the fibrous capsule that formed around it but it’s gradually being absorbed. Absolutely nothin to be afraid of and leaves your poor veins in peace for a bit.
Go for it girl!


I had mine last October as my veins were rubbish and it is brilliant. I am keeping it as although I am now on Xeloda I still have blood taken from it. The only downside is that it can’t be used for the contrast dye for CT scans so I still have the horrors of being cannulated for that, I’m really interested to hear that they may develop one that can be used for CT. Mine was put in under local anaesthetic and very little sedation!

Thanks, girls, for all the encouragement and help. It is so comforting to feel that I can trust all the information from you girls who have been there seen it and done it. I am booked in for June 10th with a local and lots of sedation, the anaesthetist assures me I will be quite unaware of the procedure going on. I will be in full Catherine Tate mode i.e “Am I bov vered?” It will get its first trial the next day when I go in for my 4th cycle of chemo.

Good luck Carolina - I had my first lot of chemo through my portacath two days later and they kept the needle in (sounds a bit yuk but it’s not).

I still have it kept in overnight when I have my Zometa. I have my bloods done the day before and they keep the needle in and I have never had any problems with it. They put a plaster on it and ‘wind’ the tube up so that it’s not uncomfortable on my skin.

I think you’ll find it so much easier once you’ve got it in and no more trying to find a vein!

They have told me I have to have it flushed every week. If you go off for a 2 week holiday, how do you manage this?

Caroline - good luck for tomorrow from me too :). I havent heard of needing it flushed every week! I receive treatment every 3 weeks and it is flushed then but I certainly dont have to go and have it flushed at other times. In fact I once went 4 weeks and they were not concerned.


Hi Carolina

Just to add that I too think portacaths are great - had mine since last July and though (like Kathryn) now on xeloda, have opted to keep it in so that they can take blood through it.

When it wasn’t being used regularly earlier this year, I had to have it flushed every 4 weeks - definitely no need to have it done more frequently than this.

Good luck on the 10th!

Kay xx

Hi All

ports are the best, definitely recommend it, my port is tiny and I have had not trouble with it, and it is flushed every 4 weeks, have never heard of two week flushes. I think I read something that said they can even push it out to 6 weeks if they have to…

Kay did you manage to sort the insurance company out on the flush? interested in your technique here if you did.


Hi Cathy

Always like it when people are actually on-line at the same time as me! How’s New York?

We’ve got round the problem with the insurance co because they are now using the port every 3 weeks for my blood tests and then will flush it. So it’s again part of my treatment (rather than maintenance) and the insurance co therefore have no issues with it! One advantage of needing more chemo?!!

K x

Hi Carolina

Portacaths are usually flushed every 4 weeks - are you sure they weren’t mixing it up with another type? I have mine done every 3 weeks but that’s only because I’m up at the hospital then for bloods for chemo and I.V. Zometa.

Mine was being flushed every 6 weeks but as I am now back on chemo and bloods have to be done it will be every 3 weeks. I have not had any problems with insurance , I think the flushing comes under the code for my oncologist