Picc line or Hickman for FEC - which to have ?

I had my first chemo on Friday 6 x FEC,and i have asked about having either a picc or hickman inserted before my next one.
I felt that a picc line would be adequate however my chemo nurse strongly pushed the hickman line saying it was far more comforable and it would be easier to administer the FEC. She said the picc lines took a long time to put the FEC through and were more uncomfotable than the hickman.

Has anyone had FEC administered via a picc line?

I worry about the hickman because of the scars ( I am prone to keloid scars ) and the fact that i sleep on my stomach - would i be able to.

Hi. I have a PICC line. I can’t tell you how it compares to a Hickman, but the FEC sessions have been very straightforward. My arm rests on a pillow on the arm of the chair. Mine is in my upper arm. There is some occasional discomfort if I try to do too much gardening or stretch too far, and some of the nurses are better than others at taping things down–not too tight, but not loose enough to clothing to catch and pull. That might be an issue with a Hickman as well, I suppose. Another woman showed me where her PICC was until recently, and there’s just a small mark on her arm.

I hope someone who has a Hickman will let you know what that is like.


Hi, I had a picc line put in beg of December before I started FEC, the first couple of weeks it was a little uncomfortable but so much easier to administer the chemo and for blood tests. I have a plastic limbo sleeve to wear in the shower and have a bandage to cover it up when Im wearing a t-shirt. A couple of people recommended having the picc and im glad i did. Good luck with whatever you decide. Ness x

I had a Picc line fitted in December and had no problems with it. FEC takes about an hour in total and the nurse stays with you most of the time.
Taking it out is even easier, it took only seconds to take it out.
Talk to the nurses in the chemo suite they are always helpful.

Not sure what the picc and hickman are like compared to a portacath but I had a portacath fitted prioir to 6 FEC and 18 herceptin and never new it was there between treatnents! Just had it removed end feb and now have a inch scar under my arm that u can’t really see! It was in my arm for 18 months

May be worth enquiring about a port as I had rubbish veins before chemo so there was no chance of accessing it! And didn’t feel a thing when they were administering!

Hope this helps and good luck,

Take care
Nicki xxxx

I had a picc line from 5 July to 21 October of last year and I think it was the best decision I made. It was recommended by my chemo nurse as it would help protect the veins and make it easier to administer the chemo. To date, I have no issues with painful veins.
Whilst I had the picc,I had no problems with it whatsoever, wrapped my arm in cling film when taking a shower. No problems with 3FEC/3TAX. I exercised with it, just never noticed it. Kept a band around it, to protect it from pulling. Now I have just a little 5mm round dark circle on my arm to remind me of the picc…
Hope this helps.
Nikki x

My chemo unit always prefers Hickman lines, as say they are less prone to mishaps. They booked one for me but when the anaethetist saw me and realised I had a significant breathing issue he opted to put a PICC line in me. Apparently a small amount of Hickmans can cause some lung problem on insertion - you know all those side effects they tell you about and make you sign off. PICC was a while to get in - I honestly have few veins on my left arm as my left hand has been paralysed for 30 years - even with ultra sound location of veins & 2 consultant anaethetists on the job I was in theatre for 2 hours.

So with my PICC line in I had 3 good EC’s infused (FEC without the F), but my PICC line never bled for blood tests so had to have blood taken from my other arm which had had the axial nodes removed. I had 8 +ve out of the 20 they removed.
My weekly line cares however weren’t very succesful. Never any pull back, and always reluctant to push saline and then they popped the hepsal in.

My first docetaxal (TAX) took 5 hours as the bag dripped in slowly - about 4 hours longer than usual. The second TAX didn’t all go in and they stopped the infusion about half way and after 6 ish hours.
So in preparation for the final TAX we had the best canulator in the hospital at hand, and managed (just) to put in a small amount (2-4mls) of the clot buster urokinase in, and 2 hours later when we took it out a few small clots came too. Final TAX went in in about an hour! hooray!

So we kept the line in just in case I needed IV antbiotics, first week it was OK at line care, second week it was blocked and they decided to take the PICC line out.

Having a line in was def the best for me, but PICC v Hickman? My unit would def go for Hickman every time, and so would I if the anaethatist says your lungs are OK and the right shape (lungs not high under your collar bone).

I am constantly going to worry if I get secondaries that it could be the half measure of my second TAX, even though my oncologist has assured me it wouldn’t be the case.

Good luck with your decision. I start my rads on Tuesday - another hurdle to leap over! :slight_smile:

I xx

I had a Hickman after 2 hours to try and cannulise me for cycle 2. It was preetty unobtrusive, they gave me a neck bag to hold eth ends in, which again didn’t show, I slept in all positions and found no problems with the thing itself.

I had 2 othe related problems tho - bad septicemia, in hospital 14 days initaiily, it hadn’t cleared and caused an abcess on my gall bladder which burst so emergency procedure for that, and anothe r2 weeks in, and then unexplianed infections gave me anothe r2 weeks - and they I suspect were the residues of the sepsis.

I also had quite scarily a nurse wanting to put my TAX direct into hickman outlet rathe rthen via saline (or whateve rthe yuse to dilute it).

If I get secondaries tho I’ll go for it again - a PICC wouldn’t get on with my - note singular! - 1 useable vein!!

Like Nicky I had a porthocath. It was fab. Depends on how active you are etc. My nurse said - more problems with infections with Hickman line - do not know about the PICC. As I run, cycle and swim a lot (although i was told not to swim during chemo) my nurse felt Porth would definitely give me more freedom to carry on with my ADL’s which was the case, maybe you should enquire about having one.

Hi Mel,

I had a hickman line after 3rd epirubicin, as my veins had hardened, my arm had become very sore and it was getting hard to get the cannula in. I had the Hickman line for 4th epi and 8 doses of CMF, I found it really good, so much better than all the needles. I had hoped to have a portacath, but the hospital I was at used hickman lines.

I was sedated when it was put in, so only vaguely aware of it being done. Initially I was a bit taken aback as the plastic tube was about 30cm long, which I hadn’t expected, but I generally kept it looped with a bit of surgical tape, and it really didn’t bother me. I was given an anticbacterial wash at the hospital, and didn’t have any problems with infections, I had the line for 5 months. The only annoying thing is that the scar from when it was removed is quite prominent, hopefully it will improve with time. Hope this is of some help with your decision, as to which to have.

Had my Hickman prior to chemo as knew viens cr% p. No probs with sleeping in any position. FEC whacked in no bother, best chemo time 40 mins, I do have a scar on my clavicle, but have used Bio oil and massage to minimise it. Have now had planned chemo, don’t know how long line will stay in but not causing any trouble. I would recommend the Hickman personally.

Hi, I had a PICC line from my second chemo. There were no problems with it at all and once removed the tiny hole healed very quickly. Mine was hidden in my upper arm, just above crease of my elbow. I suppose you need to weigh up what willbe most comfortable for you. Good luck,