What Is a 'Port'?
We wanted to share some info related to the cancer battle that is easily share-able! This info can help anyone who wants a look into more of what cancer-warriors go through. When we shared details like this with our loved ones, they were able to understand bit more about the cancer battle that we were walking through and empowered them show up and support in a greater capacity.
Many people who battle cancer have ports.
A port is an easier and more permanent way to give meds/chemo or pull labs. It is an alternative to IVs for those who regularly need treatment and bloodwork.
A port is surgically implanted and has a ‘reservoir’ that sits just below the surface of the skin. The reservoir has a silicone top that gets pierced with a needle to draw blood or give meds & chemo.
Attached to the reservoir is a long plastic tube or ‘catheter’. This tube is surgically inserted into a small vein which runs into a larger artery where the meds/chemo are distributed.
Why is the port under the skin?
The port is implanted under the skin in order to keep any risk of bacterial infection at a minimum! The skin serves as a barrier to keep anything – dirt, bacteria, etc from getting into the reservoir and bloodstream.
If bacteria were to get into the port, it could be a potentially life-threatening situation since there is direct access to the bloodstream. This is why doctors and nurses take such care to clean the port and flush it well when accessed and de-accessed. Bacteria can lead to infection, which can become very serious for a chemo patient who is neutropenic from treatment.
‘Neutropenic’ is when a person doesn’t have enough white blood cell production to fight an infection – like a healthy body can.
Can you see it?
Most ports go completely unnoticed by those who don’t know they are there. Aside from a small bump (from the reservoir) under the skin you would most likely not notice it!
Is a port only implanted in the chest?
Nope! The upper chest is usually the most common area for port placement, but they can also be implanted in the arm or abdomen (near the groin area).
Does having a port hurt?
Aside from the initial healing from the implant surgery, it doesn’t hurt. The implanted port can cause discomfort at times when you move your body in specific ways. Also, when it is accessed, the needle does have to puncture that top layer of skin to get to the reservoir, so there is a sting, but they make numbing cream for that!
We hope this post helps bring a bit of info and knowledge to you and your loved ones!