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I am only 6 weeks into my immunotherapy trial. Infusion every 2 weeks. Nurses having trouble finding a good vein. Should I get a port?  Doc said before I started I didn’t need one but I’m looking at the long view. Anyone else make the decision to get a port?

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To port or not to port?  I had one installed during the crazy haze of early diagnosis. I wasn’t sure what I signed up for.  Given the long duration of immunotherapy personally I would do the port to save the veins.  If you go that route, remember to ask for the numbing cream prescription.  Only allow the infusion nurses to access it. 

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Lin,

I think it really depends on your preference and how much poking you can tolerate.  My mom received immunotherapy and chemo for over one year, every 3 weeks.  She did not have a port.  There were times where the oncology nurses had trouble finding a vein, but there was always the one nurse who could find it.  The poking around caused some pain at the time and then some bruising.  This pain would have not happened if she had a port, but there can be some complications with ports (not too common but it can happen).   Keep in mind that you will be receiving AT LEAST 1 poke for the IV for your treatment and 1 poke for blood draw prior to the treatment - this is if your treatment goes perfectly smooth. It is my understanding that not only the treatment can be given through the port, but the blood draw can be done through the port as well (that's what I've heard anyway). In reality, my mom was poked, on average, at least once per week.  But she survived and is not traumatized by it.  

Hope this helps, take care,

Steff

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Lin,

I endured countless sticks during my treatment. If I were to go into treatment again, I'd demand a port. Here and here are lessons I learned.  There is no such thing as a little stick....

Welcome here.

Stay the course.

Tom

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I am talking with my doc next week, and yes, will definitely be requesting a port.  I am in a 2 year clinical - so infusion every 2 weeks, scans every 3 months --- don't think my veins will hold up.  Thanks for the input.

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Being an RN and knowing what some of the drugs infused can do to veins, I requested a port before therapy began. I also use the Emla (generic form) numbing cream and feel nothing at all when the port is accessed and nothing really when deaccessed. The other problem with repeated venous infusions of drugs is the risk of an infiltration, that is when the IV catheter penetrates through the vein wall and the infusion enters the general surrounding tissues. Some of the medications can be very damaging to the tissues, to the point where plastic surgery might be needed for skin grafting. This was the main reason I requested the port. Insertion was done under light anesthesia (that’s what they call it, but I was totally out!!!), no real pain. I’ve had the port about 2months now and don’t even notice it’s presence.  A port would be a very good move for you. No sense in having to go through the pain of finding veins every two weeks, not to mention every time you are stuck, opens an avenue for infection.  Blessings.

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I have a port that was implanted after my initial ChemoRadiation, but before the follow-up chemo and now 18 immunotherapy infusions so far. They draw the blood samples from the port as well as do the infusions, normally with only one needle stick to do both. The lab is on site, so the blood samples are drawn and analyzed while I'm in the chair and if okay, out comes the infusion bag and in goes the infusion. Afterwards they flush the port with saline through the same needle and then inject some heparin into it to prevent clotting. This needle stick is normally pretty painless, but do use the numbing crème starting and hour or two before the appointment. I actually had the port used the very next day after it was surgically  implanted. I've never had them have to insert the needle into the port more than once whereas I had them make 4 or 5 attempts to find a good vein in my arm. It was very rare for them to get an IV into my vein on the first attempt. By all means, get a port, especially if your insurance covers it. The only drawback is after you are done with treatments, the port will have to flushed in a fairly frequent basis, or it has to be removed. Also the tube running under your skin up from your chest to the jugular vein in your neck feels a little strange at first, but you get use to it. It is not really noticeable to other people unless you have your shirt off as the there is a lump where the port is and if someone looks close, they can see the indication of the tube under the skin.

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