Bowel cancer treatment and side effects


PICC line question

My husband starts his chemo soon and tomorrow we are going to the oncology unit to discuss the treatment. We understand that he will have a PICC line, but is this always needed? As my husband will be having the IV treatment every 3 weeks along with tablets at home can't he just have it done through a normal drip? I am concerned that the PICC line might cause infection or clots.


Hi @Lupin I had a PICC line for 3 months and I would recommend it to avoid the the pain of having a cannula inserted each time. They can take bloods from it too (they test prior to each cycle) but it does need a bit of extra care and a regular flush. A line is essential if you are being sent home with a 2 day pump. If just IV chemo on the day and tablets I guess it may be optional. I'm sure they will explain the pros and cons tomorrow and there may be a really good reason for the PICC. I was quite worried when mine was inserted but will definitely be asking for one for my mop up chemo.

Gary not Gavin

Picc line was easy painless and no fuss at all. Made taking bloods easy. Think it is the preferred method of chemo liquid.
Gavin :x:


Hi @Lupin just echoing what’s been said. Once it’s been inserted, it takes a week or so to get used to it but then you quickly realise how much easier it makes everything. You can buy a cover for it in Boots to keep it dry when showering or some people just cover it with cling film.
Any further queries just get back on here. Wishing your husband all the best


@Lupin Can’t see why you would have to have a picc line if treatment is tablets following iv. I have never ha one and even though my veins aren’t great overall no problem with cannula. Am sure there are pros and cons but I have never fancied picc line and manage very well without it.

Gary not Gavin

If your on tablet chemo yes cannot understand why having a picc line, when my picc line was done the chemo was started a couple of hours later also the covers are available on the nhs just see your GP,the hospital can also give you temp covers for showers its a very thin plastic cover.
Gavin :x:


Hi @Lupin. I managed 2 iv sessions with the cannula but my veins weren't so great by then (used to have lovely veins!) and my arm used to be so sore by the end of the transfusion that I felt ill and very nearly cried when they pulled the sticky tape off. I tried heatpads during and after treatment and the only day I had off work during my chemo was due to the pain in my arm from the iv.
Had a pic line and it was soooo much better. When I had it fitted they gave me a prescription for a limbo sleeve which is a plastic sleeve with a rubber seal at each end to cover it in the shower - there's no swimming, tennis or golf allowed while you have it.
Everybody is different so have a chat with the nurses but if the liquid chemo is going to be through a pump then that will be the reason
Karen :x:


Hi, something I am beginning to realise from this forum is that each hospital/unit has its way and they don’t all do everything the same way. My husband is on the IV once every three weeks then tablets and was not given or offered a PICC line so each time is via cannula, he says he prefers this as once the infusion is done then it’s the cannula out and no reminder to take home but that’s not to say the PICC line wouldn’t be easier just he has no experience of it. Chris :x:


Hi @Lupin the picc line is there to save him pain and discomfort in the arm caused by the oxaliplatin infusion. In my experience as a chemo nurse it's definitely worth having. He is at increased risk of clots just by having Cancer. The picc line will be flush locked with heparin after each infusion and each week during dressing change with the nurse to ensure clots don't form. Even if they do rest assured they are easily dealt with. Sending you both strength xx Lanky Yankee


Thank you all for your replies, you are so kind. Cancer is a whole new world isn't it? We had the pre-assessment clinic this morning and hubby has decided to have the picc line. We both still feel nervous though. I think it is the worry of clots that is our main concern, but the nurse explained the reasons for having it. So that will be done on next week and then the first cycle begins a few days after that.
I know I will be back here to ask more questions, so bear with me and thanks again :x:


Hi louise

I have just finished my fourth and hopefully last infusion of OXY , I dont want to worry you as every body is different, however the pain is and was horrendous, in hindsight I would have had a picc line, certainly if i ever have to have it again ( touch wood I wont) then I wouldn't hesitate to have one

best wishes



My husband has had both procedures with the delivery of chemo. The first, OXY was every three weeks through a cannula. We did have difficulties with this method. Right now my husband is having Folfiri through the PICC Line and although it means several visits to the hospital for Picc Line dressings, clinic and the chemo, it has been a much better method. My husband is on the 7th cycle of 12 and he has tolerated this chemo much better. He has not had any problems with the PICC Line so far! I hope this will be the same for your husband.

Best of luck, :x::x::x:


I had a PICC line for most of my chemo as they couldn't insert a cannula . It did make the entire process so much easier . They just plugged me in and it was quicker and less painful . I had a district nurse come out to me to flush it and only if necessary change the dressing . So I would certainly go for it again if need be :x:


Thanks for your replies. I think the district nurse will be showing me how to flush the line at some point, so I hope I am a good student!It goes in on Thursday and then Oxy starts a few days after that.


@Lupin I think the reason usually for a PICC line is that the chemo damages your veins, and keep finding a vein that will accept a canula can get difficult, to say the least. It can involve more than just one attempt each time. And that gets worse as time goes on. I'm 3 years post Chemo, and these days, it's like getting blood out of a stone for a blood test, and when I've needed a canula- like for contrast at a CT- I've had them take 4 attempts to find an accommodating vein! But I have to say i never had any pain from the actual transfusion.
I'm guessing you've already been warned about pins & needles due to contact with cold? It really does happen, and although they say cold, it does actually mean anything less than body temperature. For instance, my fingers would tingle picking cutlery out of the drawer. Definitely get him wearing gloves, it helps to stop it happening, and definitely minimises the chances of it being a long term problem. I found mine went away after a week or so, and it went after the course finished, and has never come back. It also applies to cold drinks- my mouth felt like all the taste buds sort of stood on end, and being out in cold weather, so a scarf is good.

Gary not Gavin

Hello i had chemo with picc for about 5 weeks. Putting the picc line in was a piece of cake and no pain or discomfort whilst doing or after. Its just a pain in the arse having round my neck.
Gavin good luck :x::x:


Hi all, the line went in today and I was shown how to dress it tomorrow. It will save having the district nurse come out. I will learn how to flush it next week when the chemo starts. We came home with a large pack of syringes and dressing packs! The nurses today were fantastic. So friendly and calm.


My husband has had his PICC line in since last June and has never had a moment’s worry with it. He is now on 5FU every two weeks and a flush on a weekly basis. Bloods are taken from it and I think when he needed an infusion of potassium it went in via the Picc Line. We went away to attend our son’s wedding and I received training so was able to do the flush when we were away. I am sure it will be fine.


That's good to hear @Trimmer :x: