Western Regional Blog – BC, YK, AB, NWT and Nunavut
This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 2/2013
During cancer treatment, your health care team often needs access to your veins to give you treatments such as chemotherapy, blood transfusions, antibiotics, or intravenous (IV) fluids. They may also need to take samples of your blood for testing. To make these procedures easier, your doctor may recommend inserting a special medical device called a catheter or a port.
Types of catheters
Catheters are long, narrow, hollow tubes made of soft plastic that are often used to deliver cancer treatments, as well as drugs that manage symptoms and side effects, directly into a vein. Intravenous treatments are commonly given through a small needle connected to a tube called an intravenous catheter (also called an “IV”), which is inserted into a vein in the forearm or the hand. The IV is also used to give medications before cancer treatment, such as nausea medications or fluids. IV catheters are usually removed once the treatment for that day is completed. In some cases, it may be left in for two to three days as long as it is still in the vein safely and not causing any pain or discomfort. This procedure is repeated each time a person receives treatment.
Most chemotherapy treatments can be given safely using IV catheters if the patient has adequate veins in their forearms and hands. However, this process can become uncomfortable, and inserting the needle in a vein can become difficult, if an IV treatment is expected to occur weekly or for several days in a row. In addition, some types of chemotherapy can damage tissue, making the smaller veins in the forearm or hand not a good option for treatment. As a result, the nurse or doctor may suggest placing a larger catheter directly into a large vein in the upper arm or neck.
These catheters may be placed completely under the skin and connected to a small plastic or metal disc called a port (known as a port-a-cath), or they may be tunneled under the skin with the tip exiting outside the body so they can be used to give treatments. When not being used, the catheter tip will either be clamped to keep the line closed or sealed with a special cap. Some of these catheters have two (double-lumen) or three (triple-lumen) tips that allow more than one treatment to be given at a time, such as for a person receiving a bone marrow/stem cell transplant.
There are several types of catheters. The one you receive depends on many factors, including how long you need to receive cancer treatment, the type of treatment you will be receiving, how easy it will be to care for, and cost.
Most types of catheters are inserted and work in a similar way. Where and how they are placed depends on the type of catheter being used. … For the rest of the information, go to http://www.cancer.net/all-about-cancer/cancernet-feature-articles/cancer-basics/catheters-and-ports-cancer-treatment?et_cid=31423988&et_rid=463565042&linkid=Read+about