Oct 26, 2022
Chemotherapy is often administered through a catheter inserted into your vein. The common type of catheter used for long term and frequent chemotherapy treatment is an implanted port, or chemo port. It is a catheter connected to a small plastic or metal disc that goes under the skin. Chemo port placement is done by a surgeon or a radiologist, with local anesthesia or conscious sedation. They are usually put in the right side of your chest, but can also be placed on the left side, under your arm, or abdomen.
Having a port for chemo is a common choice for cancer patients because:
A trained healthcare professional, typically a nurse, will access your chemo port. Here are key points to remember during port access:
Once your chemo port is accessed, it is covered with a clear sterile dressing and can be used for medications and blood draws. Keep in mind, some hospitals have policies that will not allow port access for other medical treatments if you are actively receiving chemo. This is to reduce the risk of losing your only access– your life line.
Your chemo port needs to be flushed to prevent infection and to keep it from being clogged. While your port is accessed, it will need to be flushed with saline at least once a day. Prior to removal, your nurse will flush your port with saline and a small dose of heparin to prevent clots from forming. When your port is not routinely being used, you need to have it accessed and flushed every 4 to 6 weeks.
You can also take charge of the cleanliness of your chest port while it is in use:
Contact your health care team right away if:
The bottom line is, chemo ports are helpful in preventing multiple needle sticks for frequent chemotherapy treatments and blood draws. But before you make a decision about them, you need to understand the pros and cons of having one and how to manage it. For more information about chemo ports, visit the OncoPower education library and watch four short illustrative videos presented by our patient navigator.
Talk to your oncologist today if having a port for cancer treatments is right for you. Our team of medical professionals at OncoPower are standing by to answer all your questions.