Port vs PICC line?

Hi there, I’m starting chemo in the next couple of weeks and have a lot of treatment ahead of me (stage 3, receiving immunotherapy intravenously along with chemo as part of a clinical trial).

I have been offered either a port or PICC line which makes sense given how much IV drugs I’ll be receiving but struggling to decide which to go with, both have pros and cons.

Be great to hear people’s experiences and any feedback, advice really appreciated x

Sorry you find yourself on this journey and facing a lot of treatment. I think you would be wise to have one of the options as treatment shrinks our veins and getting a cannula in can become the worst part of each hospital visit. I could not get my PICC fitted until after third weekly chemo (only one nurse doing them who had annual leave) and second and third treatments involved more than one attempt by more than one nurse and a lot of bruises!

PICC was easy and painless to fit under local anaesthetic and position checked with an x-ray. Then straight into treatment room and used immediately.

Removal took seconds and I didn’t feel a thing. A year later I have only a tiny mark out of sight on the inside of upper arm to show it was ever there.

Looking after a PICC involves a weekly flush and fresh dressing. I had weekly chemo so it was done as part of treatment. If treatment is not weekly you would either have additional hospital visits or the district nurse in to do it. It has to be kept dry. I managed this by showering with a big piece of cling film wrapped round my arm and keeping it away from the flow. Waterproof covers can be purchased.

You may find posts on here from unlucky people who has difficulties with a PICC such as infections but I think most of us have no problems. It is even used to take blood for all the regular tests we have, more needles avoided.

The downside of a PICC is the weekly flush if you are not in for treatment and keeping it dry. Also, if you are very squeamish you may not like the sight of a line coming out of your arm but you will keep it covered most of the time.

Hopefully someone else can give you their experience with a port. Good luck with whatever you decide and I hope the treatment itself is not too hard going through it.

Hi @Eyes_In  

I have a port.  I’ve got on very well with it, it makes both bloods and chemo a breeze.  Main pros over a PICC are that you don’t need to keep it dry, so it doesn’t restrict exercise, baths etc. No external lines to take care of or protect.  And flushes only once a month rather than weekly. For me the lack of restrictions was important because I’m still running regularly (oh so slowly now!), and I do enjoy a nice soak after a cold run. 

cons are that it’s a small operation to fit under local anaesthetic with sedation if you choose.  It was sore for a few days after fitting, and I couldn’t sleep on that side for a week or so.  And permanent scars, one teeny tiny one at the collar bone, and one about 1 cm long just above the breast.  If you choose a port, make sure you wear your chosen bra for the fitting, in my case my running bra, to make sure you don’t end up with the port under the strap. Plus you still need a needle each time they take blood or do chemo.  It’s nothing like a cannula and you can numb the area if you want, but the PICC removes needles entirely.  

I would recommend one or the other, there are pros and cons each way but I’m happy I chose the port. Good luck. Xx

I too am starting chemotherapy 2nd March and have not been offered either… just been told they will use a vein in the back of my hand.  Starting Docetaxol Herceptin and Perjeta x 6… how about you? Are you going to try to cold cap? I am…

Susan xx

I am just waiting for a date to start chemo, was only offered a PICC as opposed to having it through vein which i have opted for because of the issues of going through the vein. just waiting for a date for that too, I understand its done under local anaesthetic all a bit scary really but strangely looking forward to getting it all started !!!