PICC Lines and cancer: what you need to know

diagram of how a picc works

What is a PICC line for?

A PICC line can be used to give you treatments such as:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Blood transfusions
  • Antibiotics
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids
  • Liquid food if you’re not able to eat

Some drugs such as chemotherapy can cause discomfort or pain to the vein. A PICC line can reduce irritation in the veins by delivering the chemotherapy straight into a big vein and to make sure that the chemotherapy is given safely. It also allows for the medications, fluids and antibiotics to be given directly to the bloodstream. It can be used for blood taking which reduces the need for taking blood directly from the arm.

A PICC is ideal for people with small veins or someone scared of needles. It can also be used as a temporary central line, especially for people who need to start intensive treatment immediately or need a different type of line but are unable to have one because they are on blood thinning medication or are unable to lie flat.

PICC line insertion

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3 Replies to “PICC Lines and cancer: what you need to know”

  1. They had so much trouble trying to get the chemotherapy drugs in and I ended up with 3 cannulas in one hand. Not only was this painful but it made everyday life very difficult. In the end they said they would have to put a PICC line in. After 2 attempts they got it in and the relief was instant. It meant I could have my chemotherapy without any problems and it was completely painless. I could put an arm cover over it and shower and life became a lot easier.

    1. My husband is getting ready to have PICC line put in for his chemo treatment, were you able to shower and how does it work with putting on clothes and things like that. First time. Thank you

      1. Hi Elaine,

        It is important that the PICC line and the transparent dressing is kept dry at all times, as water at the site of the PICC line can increase the risk of infection and the PICC line needing to be removed. While in the shower, your husband can wear a waterproof cover like our LimbO cover (https://livebetterwith.com/products/limbo-adult-elbow-picc-line-cover-m65/).

        Your husband should try and wear loose fitting tops that don’t rub on the site to avoid misplacement and discomfort. Our PICC Line Covers (https://livebetterwith.com/products/care-wear-picc-cover/) can also help.

        The nurse who fits the PICC should be able to answer any other questions you have.

        Best wishes,

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