In an outpatient procedure a few days before my first chemo appointment, I had a power port implanted on the left side of my upper chest. This quarter-sized port helps chemo drip smoothly because it connects a catheter to one of the central veins leading through my body.
Why is this a big deal? It means chemo drugs can be quickly and safely delivered into my bloodstream—and I didn’t need to get my arm pricked with new IVs at every infusion.
Are you wondering whether you or your loved one should get a port for chemotherapy? Here are a few pros and cons based on my experiences over three years of chemo and pre-op testing:
Disclaimer: These are my tips and suggestions as a patient, not as a clinician. Please consult your doctor when making a decision.
- It Speeds Up Chemo Infusions
Oncology nurses are skilled at quickly inserting the special Huber needles into the port, which hook up to the IV chemo drugs.
- No More IV Bruises
Because my veins are tiny, before I got my port, nurses struggled to find veins on my arms and I dealt with lots of bruises from failed attempts.
- Less Pain
About 90 minutes before my infusion appointments, I use a lidocaine cream to numb the skin above my port. I liberally apply it with cotton balls and then cover it with clear plastic wrap. Nurses clean the area, and one pinprick later, the needle is in.
- It Can Stay In As Long As You Need Treatment
With a port, you can bathe, swim, and generally perform whatever activities you feel well enough for.
- It Can Be Used for Other Therapies
My port allows for quick blood draws. It also allows me to have an MRI with contrast without another pesky IV.
- One More Procedure, One More Scar
- It Looks Awkward Poking Out of Your Skin
My port looks like a black-and-blue tiny quail egg-sized bruise sticking out of my skin. For the first year, I’d wear clothes that covered the port, and this helped with my self-confidence. After a while though, I no longer cared and now just wear whatever I want. Once in a while, someone will ask about it, and I’m ok with that.
- It Gets In the Way Of Seat Belts
You can purchase a fuzzy seat-belt cover for driving that way the belt doesn’t rub against the port. This is a simple solution.
- It Can Malfunction or Break
In the three years since placement, I have not had any issues.
The decision is obviously yours and your doctor’s; however, for me, the convenience—and relief from more discomfort—the port provides during my treatment easily outweigh the negatives.