How to prepare for getting a chest port for chemo?

Posted by ocpand @ocpand, Nov 6, 2020

Hi All,

my sister in law was just diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer and will be getting a port placed for chemo soon. Looking for tips/info to help her prepare. She is very exhausted and in a lot of pain and so I am doing a lot of the research for her. Will she be sore after it is placed? should she wear something that buttons/zips so she doesn’t have to raise her arms while it heals? When it comes to going to chemo treatments, any tips on clothing to wear to easily access the port?

Thanks in advance!

Went through this a few years back. Have a port placed in my upper right chest. It was an outpatient procedure and went fine with little discomfort and relatively quick healing. Generally wore a loose fitting shirt for chemo and had no real issues with port access. Hope this helps some.

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Hello @ocpand – I see this is your first post.
Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect, an online community where people can share experiences and ask each other questions about any health issue.
We are not medical professionals who can offer medical advice.

For my treatments, I had a Pick Line, which entered in the inner upper arm or a Hickman Line, which entered just above the collar bone.
The pick was placed with only a bit of local anesthesia. The Hickman was a short surgery where I was mildly induced.
There was no pain for the pick and only a bit of discomfort for the Hickman. (very short term)

I always wore something loose fitting for easy access for treatment and maintenance. Dressing should not be an issue as the line(s) can be taped out of the way which will also keep them in place. The line will also have to be kept dry during showering. With the Pick Line I was instructed not to lift anything heavy for fear of pushing the line out. Once I completed my treatments, it was a quick and painless procedure to have them removed.

I encourage you to continue to use Mayo Clinic Connect to ask your questions, there always seems to be someone just a few clicks away that can reply from their personal experiences.

When is your Sister in Law going to start treatments?

All the best to you and your Sister in Law.

Bob

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Hello @ocpand. I have a port, located on my right side just below my collar bone. It was placed a little over 2 years ago for my chemo treatments. But it is used for blood work, and really anything else that would require an IV. I remember being nervous at the prospect of it – especially when I was trying to process everything that was happening at the time-but I have to say that for me, it has been a godsend, and I have never had any problems with it. It was placed during an outpatient procedure, I was awake during it but felt absolutely nothing, had no pain afterwards, and there really wasn't much to the recovery that I recall. As a matter of fact, I had my first chemo treatment the very next day, using the port. Whenever the port is accessed to be used, it is done so with a specific type of needle. I don't notice more than a pin prick you would feel when receiving a shot, but most times I don't even notice that. I was given a prescription cream of lidocaine to rub over the port before having the needle placed, but I don't use it. You might make sure your sil is given this, she might find it makes her more comfortable. The nurse usually tells me to take a deep breath when inserting or removing the needle, which does help. And yes, it is easier and more comfortable for me to wear clothing that is conducive to accessing the port. There are also small pillows you can attach to your seatbelt, so that it doesn't rub against your port, and possibly irritate it. I used it in the beginning, but not so much now. I got mine from my chemo doctor's office, where the American Cancer Society had left some for patients to have, so you can usually find one. I am sorry that your sil received this diagnosis, and that she is in pain. She is blessed to have you looking out for her. I will keep her in my prayers.

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Thank you all so much for the replies and support, it means so much. This all can be very overwhelming to process so I'm grateful to have found MC connect as a resource.

She will start treatments after thanksgiving. They will do chemo + radiation, surgery, and then more chemo. Her care team estimating her treatment to be around 8 months, no complications. I'm hoping all goes well. She is very young, in her early 30s and this came as a shock to us all.

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@polkagal

Hello @ocpand. I have a port, located on my right side just below my collar bone. It was placed a little over 2 years ago for my chemo treatments. But it is used for blood work, and really anything else that would require an IV. I remember being nervous at the prospect of it – especially when I was trying to process everything that was happening at the time-but I have to say that for me, it has been a godsend, and I have never had any problems with it. It was placed during an outpatient procedure, I was awake during it but felt absolutely nothing, had no pain afterwards, and there really wasn't much to the recovery that I recall. As a matter of fact, I had my first chemo treatment the very next day, using the port. Whenever the port is accessed to be used, it is done so with a specific type of needle. I don't notice more than a pin prick you would feel when receiving a shot, but most times I don't even notice that. I was given a prescription cream of lidocaine to rub over the port before having the needle placed, but I don't use it. You might make sure your sil is given this, she might find it makes her more comfortable. The nurse usually tells me to take a deep breath when inserting or removing the needle, which does help. And yes, it is easier and more comfortable for me to wear clothing that is conducive to accessing the port. There are also small pillows you can attach to your seatbelt, so that it doesn't rub against your port, and possibly irritate it. I used it in the beginning, but not so much now. I got mine from my chemo doctor's office, where the American Cancer Society had left some for patients to have, so you can usually find one. I am sorry that your sil received this diagnosis, and that she is in pain. She is blessed to have you looking out for her. I will keep her in my prayers.

Jump to this post

Thank you for the tip on the breathing, lidocaine cream and the port pillow, I was able to find one on Amazon for cheap! Her port gets placed next week.

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Hello @ocpand – There is a group for Caregivers on Mayo Clinic Connect that you may also find helpful, I have added the link to this message. https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/caregivers/

Take Care
Bob

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Hello @ocpand – I too was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017, Stage 3b. After my 3rd routine colonoscopy. No symptoms.Treatment was abdominal surgery and 6 months of chemo. And yes, for us it came as a shock, even to the doctors. Fortunately, I was in such great physical shape. Re: a port, I was asked by the PA who put it in which hand I use and which shoulder do I carry my purse, etc because that side will be very limited with port placement. I was partially sedated when the port was placed, and all went well. However, I had quite a lot of difficulty with my port – due to my being quite thin. The rubbing against my bra strap or exercise bra was awful, I developed an inflammation, the PA was thinking of redoing my port but instead I had some skin cream and stopped wearing anything but a white T-shirt on top. At about 4 months into chemo, my port became somewhat dislodged and the chemo nurses tried to reposition it in my chest.

For me, the chemo (3 days of chemo, then 11 days off) for 6 months got to be incredibly exhausting. I don't have any words for it. I tremendously appreciated anything anyone did for me . . . whether it was send me a 'thinking of you' card, or bringing me chicken soup, or even picking me up on my "week of rest" and go to lunch. Those are things I will never forget. I'm trying to think of how I can volunteer at the hospital where I was treated, and give something back, now that I am feeling well.

This Christmas I will be 2.5 years post-chemo (YAY!!!) and am doing quite well. While I will never be as energetic as I was pre-cancer diagnosis (PCD) due to toxicity from one of the chemo drugs, I feel I am so very fortunate! My oncologist and his team of nurses and PAs are so fabulous and I have checkups routinely. I'm on the 5 year plan for followup.

You are a wonderful sister-in-law to be so concerned. Her cancer team should be having a long consultation with her about what to expect before the port is put in, and before surgery or chemo, If I can be of further help, please let me know. Blessing to you and your SIL.

Paula

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