If you or your loved one have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer your medical professional may have mentioned receiving a port as a part of your treatment plan. When there has been a life changing diagnosis, all the information received at once can be a bit overwhelming and hard to decipher. While, I’m not a medical professional, I did some digging and am breaking down what you need to know about ports throughout your breast cancer journey.
There is a misconception about what a port actually is, according to cancer.net, a port is the plastic/metal disc that is connected to the larger catheter. The whole set up is called a port-a-cath. Instead of inserting an IV for every round of treatment, or for additional fluids/antibiotics, you may receive the port-a-cath which can stay inserted into the vein for extended periods of time.
If part of your treatment plan requires chemotherapy, your doctor may have you get a port in order to reduce the number of times you receive an IV. Since a port is semi-permanent chemo, fluids, blood transfusion, and additional antibiotics can be administered without pricking and inserting an IV each time. Rather they just connect to the port-a-cath you may have in your upper chest/neck or arm area.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF A PORT?
The University of Utah Health says once your sutures and steri-strips are removed you do not have to have to take special care of the skin site. However, any redness, fever, or signs of infection at the port site need to report to your doctor directly. You will need to take special care of your port in the days immediately after having it placed by keeping it covered with clean, dry bandages, regularly changing the dressings, and covering the dressings when showering in order to keep them from becoming wet.
Receiving a port-a-cath is a regular practice in cancer treatment, and can save you the pain that could come with regular pricking of IVs. Before and after receiving your port make sure you have a list of questions to bring to your medical professional so you can best understand the importance of the port and how to care for it throughout your treatment.