Picc line? Pros and cons? Should I have one?

I have had 2 of my chemo sessions now and at each one the nurse suggested I should have a Picc line fitted. Having looked at pictures of this I think it looks quite scary! The chemo I am on Fec, apparently can damage veins so they are suggesting it to save my veins for future. Not sure what to do, has anyone had one of these fitted and if so did it hurt and was it worth it? Thank you x

Hi Jlr,
I had a Picc line for FEC chemo. My Onc didn’t really give me much choice, telling me the FEC, (Epirubicin particularly), would “kn***er your veins”.
I too was anxious about having it inserted; more nervous than about having surgery! However, it only took about 20 minutes and was more or less painless, with local anaesthetic. Once in place it did take a few days till I was unaware of it. They advise putting a hot water bottle on the arm a few times a day at first, to keep the veins dilated and help it settle.
It made chemo easier - no hunting for veins. I saw lots of people in the chemo suite where the nurses were really struggling to get the cannulas in. Also, pre chemo blood tests are taken from it. Hearing stories from other people who’s veins really suffered, makes me glad I had it.
Downsides are: you need to be careful to keep it dry when showering and can’t go swimming. Also, it needs to be flushed every week between chemos, to stop it blocking. Some people have this done at their hospital, but I went to my GP surgery, where the district nurses did it.
Hope this helps

Thanks cats eye, I think I will go ahead with it, as am terrified of needles anyway it might make each chemo session more bearable! Xx

If I only ever offer one bit of advice to ladies starting FEC its get a line put in.

i am from the April 2012 chemo thread and many of the ladies had collapsed veins and all sort of trouble with FEC. The epirubicin is a horror.
I had a port fitted as am HER2+ so all my chemo and Herceptin are given through that and have never had any vein or needle problems at all.

Hi Jlr, I have no regrets getting the Picc Line as it makes chemo and getting bloods done so much easier. I had one fitted from the start as they struggled to get a decent vein on my first chemo. I’ve just had chemo four and hardly notice it at all and the district nurse comes to my house weekly to flush it which is painless.
I’m a bit squimish and the thought of it getting fitted was worse than the procedure. For me it was painless and the nurse kept me chatting so it was fine. Like catseye I see lots of people having a tough time with their veins in the chemo suite.
Hope this helps x

Thank you that has definitely helped make my mind up, going to do it xx

Jlr, if you hace the choice, I would ask for a portacath. With a piccline, there is no swimming, bathing is difficult. You have to be extremely careful with hygiene, and some clothes might not fit. While a portacath allows you to run a normal life As it is subcutaneous. If you have treatment for the long run i.e herceptin after chemo, you might be able to have one.

i had 3 x FEC and 3 x Taxotere and had them all through cannulas, along with all the bloods and intravenous antibiotics when hospitalised with low white blood cells. The nurses in the chemo unit tried to manouevre me into a PICC line but weighing it all up, and working throughout chemo, decided I couldn’t be doing with extra faff!!!
My veins were not great, but the cannula always went in on the 1st or 2nd attempt…depended on the skill of the nurse to be honest. Found wearing a plastic glove under a woolly glove with a handwarmer for an hour before chemo worked a treat to get veins plump :slight_smile:
The did suffer a little…I finished chemo last June…but with regular self-massage and swimming they are 99% back to normal.
Totally your decision, just thought I would offer a different perspective.
good luck with the rest of your treatment. Xo

hi jlr, i finished my chemo at the end of oct 2012, and wish to heck that i had been offered a line, im now having physio to try help stretch the veins as my chemo arm is jiggered vein wise. i cant manage a full arm extension. Ive been told ive had an extreme reaction to EC chemo. so do please think about having one fitted. i hope you get on ok throughout your treatment.

I had a PICC line for chemo and although it was great to have it as it saved my veins for Herceptin, i was soooo glad to be rid of it after a few months. I was itchy under the dressing, showering with cling film round my arm, no baths possible. AlthoughI found it inconvinient, it was better to have it. So on the whole I would recommend it.