swollen arm from chemo/picc line

Hi all,

I finished chemo in May which i received through a picc, this was fitted after fec 2 due to vein damage but removed after fec 5 due to an infection from dressing.

Since having line removed i have been left with a swollen arm from fingertips to shoulder that is measuring 2 " bigger in circumference than other arm.

I went to my Gp yesterday as other people had begun to notice size difference & she has referred me back to the oncologist that only waved bye bye to me 4 weeks ago & wasnt due to see him again till next July, i saw Gp yesterday morning & last night Onc called to ask me to go in to hospital for appointment tomorrow.

Had this problem been on my Bc side i think all would assume lymphodema as apart from the swelling it aches when i use it or if i hold it above my head but obviously as its on good side it cant be that.

I am now also having trouble with a bit of shoulder pain & a strange sensation in my neck so as you can imagine my mind has now gone into overdrive, rational Sarah tells me that since surgery i have taken to constantly sleeping on this side with one of those v shaped pillows tucked between neck & shoulder but irrational Sarah is thinking that when i was initially sent for investigation for breast lump the actual lump i found was on this side but after investigation i was told it was tissue hardening but that they had found something on the other side that wasnt ok, treatment for me (apart from the Tamoxifen) has now finished but the original lump that i found is still there.

Sorry for the long winded explanation but i hadnt realised till today just how worried i am & am sure my mind is running wild, writing it down does sometimes help too instead of sitting on couch & crying with fear & an overwhelming feeling of anxiety in my stomach Gp felt my armpit yesterday & said all was ok but i didnt mention my neck as i was too scared but will obviously mention it tomorrow.

So back to original question " has anyone been left with a swollen arm from picc/chemo ?"


Hi Sarah,

Long time since I’ve seen you on here and sorry you are sooo worried. I can’t really help s I still have my PICC line in. My last chemo is in 3 weeks. I think you are right to push for meetings with your onc and you should speak to your BCN urgently as well.

Just what you don’t need when you thought you were all done with treatment, but better to put your mind at rest especially as you had worries about the other side anyway.

Hope you get some answers and let us know.

(((Hugs)) to you.


Sarah I don’t know if it is any reassurance but neck problems are quite common after illness - we don’t realise how much time we spend hunched up with tense shoulders. I had a very stiff neck after rads and went to see my physio - she put me in front of a mirror and I was shocked to see an old lady with hunched up shoulders nearly to my ears, causing all my problems. So there could well be quite innocent explanations for the shoulder and neck pain, and the arm swelling from the chemo trauma - but as always with bc if someone is worried I would advise them to get it checked out just in case. Hope you get it resolved soon.

finty x

Hi Wandy & Finty,

Thank you, i actually feel a bit better for writing it down, have just spoken to nurse who has said it is possibly a result of damage done to veins but there is a small possibility of a clot so they will be doing an ultrasound, i told her that they ultrasounded it when they took picc out but she says as that was back in May & there is swelling still present so they will repeat it to be on the safe side, am sure too that you are right Finty about tension, i think we often have more than we allow or believe.


I hope it’s not too serious and is treatable, Sarah. It’s all to easy to hold an arm clamped to your side if it’s painful or uncomfortable, so as Finty says, perhaps that is causing the neck and shoulder pain. I’ve gone back to tucking a cushion under my arm at night as I still get discomfort from swelling in my breast and around the underarm scar.

It’s such a nuisance to have problems hanging on after treatment, even if they aren’t serious.

Have been to hospital & its a blood clot from picc line thats just below my collar bone hence the sore neck & shoulder, have had to stop Tamoxifen immediately & have to have a injection daily to tummy until Ct scan can be arranged to locate exact position size etc, when this has been done they can give me warfarin (sp) & an alternative to Tamoxifen but not sure what yet.

Thank you ladies for your kind words & reassurance yesterday, you can imagine what my head was telling me.



So glad you have some answers although still a bit concerning but at least you know now what you’re dealing with.

Still more ((hugs)) to you and take care.


Glad you’ve got an answer, and good luck with resolving the problem.

I had port to right chestwall with colorectal cancer in 2009. My right arm is swollen all this time with no clots. I think veins are damaged and drs look the other way. My right arm is at time 1.5 larger than left arm. Causes pain in shoulder . Im a nurse and ive tried accupuncture and anyway, its swollen daily.