Chemotherapy Port Risks and Benefits

A huge advancement in the treatment of breast cancer has been the development of ports, or intravenous access devices that allow for easier administration of chemotherapy. Dr. Margileth addresses the risks and benefits of chemotherapy ports in this video.

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David A. Margileth, M.D.: Having been around the oncology world for several decades now, one of the huge advances in chemotherapy not only adult oncology but also especially maybe pediatric oncology has been the development of ports.

These are intravenous access devices that allow for much easier administration of chemotherapy such that the poor nurse and the poor patient don’t have to go through being stuffed a number of times to administer the chemotherapy.  The other dilemma with using the arm for chemotherapy is that there are a number of drugs, Adriamycin being the main one, that if the drug comes out of the vein it can cause a lot of skin necrosis and ultimately may need a skin graft by a plastic surgeon.

So that in patients who have poor veins or patients that are getting a long course of chemotherapy, a port is a real boon to both the patient and the nurse.  The ports are mostly fairly foolproof now.

The complications such as clotting or bleeding or drug extravasation are very, very rare.  In general the port would come out right after the chemotherapy has been completed.  So that the benefits of a port far outweigh the complications obviously when the port is in, one needs to look for infection and clots, but actually those are quite rare.

So the ports have been a very important part of making chemotherapy an easier experience than it was before when finding a vein could have been very-very frustrating and difficult.

Dr. David A. Margileth practices medical oncology at St. Joesph Hospital in Orange, CA specializing in oncology, hematology, and internal medicine (board certified). His selected area of interest is breast cancer. Dr. Margileth graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in 1971 and has since spent time treating patients at the National Cancer Institute and Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX.

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