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Topic: vein damage

Forum: Managing Side Effects of Breast Cancer and Its Treatment —

This is a place to discuss concerns, tips and strategies for all types of side effects from all types of medications and treatments, (chemo/rads/hormonal/targeted/pain meds/etc.

Posted on: Jul 28, 2007 11:04AM

VikkiG67 wrote:

I have a question about damage to my veins. The nurse blew out 2 veins at my last treatment. She finally got a vein half way up my forearm, but it hurt at my elbow when she injected the red stuff. So, she diluted it and went slower. My arm hurt all week at the elbow, but the nurse didn't get excited when I called her a week later. Now I've noticed that the sore place is getting larger (about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide). It's been 2 weeks. There is no redness or hot feeling and I don't have a fever. Just the spot that feels like something is pulled. Should I be concerned? I think I'm going to get a port for next time.

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Jul 28, 2007 11:44AM Doc wrote:

sorry about your vein, the soreness could last that long just from irritation of the vein from the medicine. If you do feel hot over the vein or if your arm or hand below the vein swells or looks dusky, go in to see the doc. I hope you will be able to ask for a different nurse to try your IV next time if needed. I was lucky to make it through 4 treatments without a port, but I did have one treatment that needed to be slowed waaaay down as well.

Doc Dx 2/8/2005, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 28, 2007 12:41PM Stack wrote:

after 4 dd ac my veins were shot i had a picc line put in my arm for the 4 dd taxol. it was a pain, but my treatments were a breeze. plus i didnt have another scar on my chest from a port.(like one more scar would matter) they didnt draw blood from it, but it was worth it for me to not have an iv stuck in my hand for the 4 hours every 2 weeks.

here it is almost a year and a half later and they still have trouble finding s vein for draws.
Dx 2005, 3cm & 1.5cm IDC w/DCIS, Stage II Grade III, 0/5 Nodes, ER+,PR-,HER2-
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Jul 28, 2007 04:46PM VikkiG67 wrote:

what is the difference between a picc line and a port? I'm not worried about getting the port (although I'd rather lay in front of a train than get one), but I'm afraid of the procedure to put it in. Just because they'll need to run an IV to put me out. Scares me to death. My arm still aches from that last treatment.
I have only 1 more of this treatment and then I switch to herceptin and something else for 12 weeks in a row then every 3rd week for a year.
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Jul 28, 2007 07:26PM Stack wrote:

a port obviously goes into your chest, a picc line is put in your upper arm on the under side. mine was a double picc line. it was done under sterile conditions and i was awake but they did give me something to make me pretty relaxed. when it was done i had a line about 4 inches long hanging out my arm. it was taped snug to my arm so it couldnt pull out. and it had 2 IV type ends on it. all they had to do was screw my chemo IV to it and i was all set. but i couldnt get it wet, so showers were difficult

i dont know if you would want to have a picc line for an entire year. i also dont know if they would leave one in for that long. as for sore veins, mine hurt to touch for approx. 6 months after my chemo was finished. they arent sore any more, but they arent the same either.
Dx 2005, 3cm & 1.5cm IDC w/DCIS, Stage II Grade III, 0/5 Nodes, ER+,PR-,HER2-
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Jul 29, 2007 08:19AM FitChik wrote:

I also didn't want a port in my chest because I feared the look of it and I was already terrified of losing my hair. I did the first chemo via IV and it was just annoying to be hooked up like that for so long. I was also told that if the vein blew during the push, the Adriamycin was very toxic and could present problems in the surrounding tissue. That scared me enough to get a port. The insertion was nothing and I only had a local anasthetic. The surgeon even let me draw a line where I wanted it. I am so grateful I had the port inserted because it not only protected my veins, but I was freed up to do whatever I wanted during the infusion (well, not play tennis or anything, but you know what I mean ). I had the port removed a year ago and can barely see the scar.

"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim." ~Nora Ephron
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Jul 29, 2007 08:25AM katoMato wrote:

Hi, I've been following this thread because of something my sister-in-law said. She's a nurse in a cancer facility and was "admiring" my veins (pre-treatment) one day at lunch, and then she said "Oh, yeah. They'll change after chemo." What happens to them? Do they get brittle? or shrink? or dissolve? or explode? She couldn't answer me. She just said they'd change. When you say: "they arent sore any more, but they arent the same either." What does that mean? Will I have trouble with them?...thanks, K.

Kaye Dx 3/27/2007, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Jul 29, 2007 09:35AM Stack wrote:

i am not sure what happens to the vein. i personally think the shrival or shrink. mine hurt the worst when i would stretch the muscle on the backside of my forearm. if i wore a longsleeve shirt and pulled the sleeves up onto that area it would hurt to much to leave it there. now when the light hits that part of my arm right you can see an indent where my veins were/are. it doesnt hurt but it is noticably different.
the nurses in the chemo room and elsewhere, have said that after you have had chemo your veins are like trying to stick a rubber band. plus they have told me my veins were beautiful when i started all of this, but now they seem to run and hide when they know a needle is coming. i wonder if anxioty(sp?) can cause your veins to move deeper in your arm.
i cant answer whether or not you will have trouble with yours or not. but i would guess that everyone does, maybe it wouldnt be as much trouble if no chemos were administered thru them. thats probably a better ? for the dr.
Dx 2005, 3cm & 1.5cm IDC w/DCIS, Stage II Grade III, 0/5 Nodes, ER+,PR-,HER2-
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Jul 29, 2007 10:16AM rumoret wrote:

By my fourth TAC treatment my veins were almost impossible to fine.....a picc line was mentioned. But.....one week later I was admitted into the hospital with an obstructed small bowel (was swollen....nothing obstructing it....cause from TAXOTERE). When I was in the hospital I was very concern about my veins and the continual blood draws they were doing. I barely made it out of the hospital with any good veins. Three days later I was back in the hospital with hospital induced pneumonia (probably from the tube that was down my nose for 5 days). Anyway while in the hospital with pneumonia and all of the blood draws.......I ended up getting a picc line inserted into my neck. The doctors came right in to my room and set up the procedure.....a little more technical than the one in your arm. I was awake during the whole procedure. When I was discharged from the hospital and ended up at the emergency room the same day....POST TRAMATIC ......because of having fluid around part of my heart I thought I was having a heart attack so called ambulance. Anyway, at the hospital it was almost impossible for the doctors to get a IV in my arm.

SO WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY...........if life is getting difficult by your 3rd chemo......Get a picc line inserted. If I would have done that....then when I landed in the hospital 2 times and 3 times to emergency room.....I would not have had the added anxiety of nurses butchering my arm trying to get in an IV. My hospital stays and vein issues caused a majority of my POST TRAMATIC STRESS that I have today. This was my story...............but I SURVIVED!

Love You All Very Much,
Hugs to my Sisters, Dx 4/13/2006, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 29, 2007 10:19AM iodine wrote:

One thing I think is not discussed with chemo patients is that even tho the number of chemos is "only" a few, the possible damage to veins can last a very long time.

Some docs don't consider that these veins have to last a person for the rest of their lives and that these very veins are going to be used for a great deal more than "just" chemo!

We have many (hopefully) many more years of medical treatment and tests to undergo and that needs good veins.

So we need to protect our veins as much as we can while we can. That's the role I see for ports. Not "just" for the chemo for for the rest of our lives.
Dotti---BE NOT AFRAID, Pope John Paul
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Jul 29, 2007 01:12PM ducky1 wrote:

Here's my take I am having chemo #5 tomorrow and a picc line was mentioned after chemo #3. I am a golfer so that was not even part of the question. I would have gone for a port if necessary. However, that said, the damage to my veins is bad. The ones that have been used are now brown or a deep red and shrivelled.. they have basically dried up AND it feels like a bad bruise that is not healing (after several months). I have a vein on the underside of my arm that somehow has survived. They always get a vein first try. It is the Epirubicin that is killing my veins (and hair:) The onc. told me that the smaller veins will step up to the bar and take over where the larger ones were. Like Stack said, when I stretch my arm, you can spot and literally feel the veins as they are hard.
I asked why they didn't use my hand or upper arm (even my bum...what the heck!!) but they would not take a chance with possible leakage.
Bottom line is that having a picc line or port freaked me out more than using my veins but would have saved them, no doubt about it. The decision is yours and you have to do what is right for you.
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Jul 29, 2007 09:08PM Valsul wrote:

My veins in my left hand are wrecked and still hurt after seven months out of chemo.

I have to have Herceptin every 3 weeks, and the pantomime I had to endure while they stabbed me seven times in search of a vein when they had all gone AWOL made me agree to a PICC line. It's a bind not getting it wet - I cling film it when I take a shower! - and I couldn't go into the pool on holiday, but it should be out when I have completed a year in January 08. However inconvenient it's such a relief not having the multiple stabbings every time they want to infuse me.

My onc nurse said that the chemo wrecks the veins and they really don't recover. Mine are still hurting.

It all sucks, but I have to think what all this is keeping at bay.

Big hugs
Don't just smell the roses - become the rose
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Jul 29, 2007 10:10PM flip77 wrote:

I don't know if it will be of any help to anyone but my wife just had a chemo port put in on Wednesday. After two rounds of AC chemo the techs said her veins were "collapsing" and suggested a port or a PICC line. Her oncologist went with the port. The procedure went really smooth and she said the discomfort wasn't too bad. She had a little trouble sleeping the first night but she's doing much better now. She has to be careful not to get it wet so it's sponge baths only until Wednesday when she'll go back to get it checked. If it has healed properly she should be able to shower, swim, etc. It's hard to tell what it will look like because it's been bandaged up the whole time. But if it will keep her from being a pin cushion while they look for veins I don't think she cares what it will look like. She only has two more AC chemos but then she'll have 12 weeks of once a week Tamoxafin (sp). I think she's happy she got the port.

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Jul 29, 2007 11:00PM Chelee wrote:

If you have to do herceptin for a year along with lab draws and who knows what else...I think you would be better off with a port. I know it sounds scary...but its not as bad as it sounds. I know I was TOTALLY against it...I said NO WAY. Long story short...ended up getting one and it was the BEST thing I could of done. Saved me AND the chemo nurse time and trouble.

Unlike most women...I had my *port* put in my upper arm. (Not a picc line...and actually port.) Very *tiny* and under the skin...could hardly see it. Even my chemo nurse teased me and said I had a BABY port. I just had it removed 2 weeks ago. But it was in for 1 yr and 6 months and NOT one problem at all with it. The sleeves of my blouse hide it from everyone...and it was SO EASY for the nurses to access it for my infusions and labs. I don't know how I would of gotten thought the year without it. I wasn't put out to have it installed...just a local to numb it. It wasn't that bad...a little sore for about a week...but well worth it in the long time. My port was trouble free the entire time. So having one put in your upper arm is another options verses your chest if that would make any difference to you? I feel for you because none of this is easy...so many decisions. Hope things work out for you...hang in there.

Dx 12-05, Stage IIIA, Her2/Neu, 3+++, Er & Pr pos, 5 of 16 pos nodes. Dx 12/20/2005, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 5/16 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jul 30, 2007 06:49AM VikkiG67 wrote:

Thanks for all the positive "port info". I am going to talk to the doctor on Friday about getting one put in before my next treatment. I was excited about getting this last ac/cytoxin treatment over with, but I think 12 weeks of taxol will be tough, too. Although a port may make it easier and I can crochet while I wait. Thanks again, everyone!!

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Jul 30, 2007 12:40PM Chelee wrote:

Vikkie, I think you've made a good decision. In the long run you will be so glad you did it. It saves so much time and trouble for you and the chemo nurses. It expedites your lab draws and infusions. Let alone saves your veins and you don't have to be poked 100 times.

It will make getting through your treatments so much easier...one LESS thing to worry about. Every little bit helps when going through this nightmare as I call it. Good luck to you and keep us updated. Hang in there.

Dx 12-05, Stage IIIA, Her2/Neu, 3+++, Er & Pr pos, 5 of 16 pos nodes. Dx 12/20/2005, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 5/16 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Mar 15, 2009 08:20AM Slane wrote:

I have had 4 lots of Epirubicin and 2 lots of CMF before having a central line in my chest. I had to delay treatment waiting for a line. The Oncologist said it wasnt worth getting a line put in as I only had 2 more cycles of CMF to go and suggested using the other arm which is the opperated side where I have had lymph nodes removed!  My veins in my left arm are so bad the Oncologist said they were the worse he had seen in 10 years which didnt do much to cheer me up! I have been referred to a vascular surgeon who looked at my veins, his suggeston was removal of two veins (about 12inches long from upper arm to my wrist!) if they got worse within the next 2 months. Its the Epirubicin thats done the damage My advice to any one is to not have more than two treatments in a hand or arm and demand a  PICC line or port sooner rather than later.

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Mar 15, 2009 09:14AM GramE wrote:

Although I am not a medical professional, I ask zillions of questions and try to come up with what is best for me.   I was told many times that each time a vein is used, a small scar forms.  It is a wound and has to heal, even if a simple blood draw.   When chemo or any medication is done over a period of time, an hour or so, or overnight - a larger scar forms.   That is why they go higher and higher  on your arm to try to get a good vein.  Don't quote me on this, but it kind of makes sense.

I have a port and it is no big deal.  At first it hurt because it is a surgery and the thing is implanted in your chest.   The only drawback I can tell of is, NOT EVERYONE knows how to access the port.  It needs to be done under sterile conditions - mask and gloves.   Like in your dr office, the tech may not know how to do it, so a blood draw needs to use your arm.  

Access (sticking the needle in) is very quick.  Turn your head the other way, take a deep breath and you are hooked up.  Removal is the same.  A gauze pad and tape are put over when the needle is withdrawn.   Some use a numbing cream an hour before, but I find it is just a very quick pinch.  

There are different kinds of ports.  Your dr can decide which is best for you.  Some can be used for radioactive dye and contrast solutions - again saving your arm veins.   When, IF you get one, draw your bra strap outline so it does not rub or irritate.  On the way home after it is put in, and for several days after, use a pillow or rolled up towel to pad from the car seat belt.    

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