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A chemotherapy port is a small, circular plastic or metal button about the size of a quarter inserted below the skin. The port attaches a catheter and a vein. Chemotherapy drugs are administered via the port with a needle that fits into the port. The port eliminates the constant needle sticks due to trying to find a vein during the administration of treatment. Medical personnel can also use the port to draw blood. When the chemotherapy treatment is complete then medical personnel remove the port.


Due to overall weakening of the immune system during chemotherapy treatment, an infection may occur on the skin above the chemotherapy port and around where the catheter goes into the port. Signs of infection often include the skin turning red and swelling. Pain will also typically occur at the site of infection. The pain can present as either intermittent or ongoing. A temperature will spike and patients may feel a loss of equilibrium and start to feel faint, reports Macmillan Cancer Support.


A clot proves another side effect of a chemotherapy port. Symptoms of a clot include redness and painful swelling of the arm or neck on same side of the body as the location of the port. This side effect typically requires immediate removal of the port. Then medical staff will administer an anticoagulant medication to dissolve the troublesome clot.

Port Can Develop Instability

Strenuous lifting or overly active exercise can also cause problems with the stability and placement of the port. Patients should ask their doctors for information about activities they should avoid while the port is in use.

Leaks, Skin Damage, Inability to Repair Port

In a study 2006 by Inaba Yoshitaka et al in the Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology, several problems can result from the use of ports in treatment for colon cancer. In some cases, a port-related problem made therapy continuation problematic. Other problems noted related to port use included: damage to the catheter used with the port, leaks at the puncture site for the port, skin damage, likely infection, and an inability to repair a damaged port. The study was conducted at the Aichi Cancer Center Hospital, Naguya, Japan.