PICC lines: comparing infections in cancer vs noncancer patients

PICC lines are frequently used in cancer care

Due to their ease of placement, peripherally inserted central line catheters or PICC lines are widely used in cancer care.1

PICCs enable the administration of parenteral nutrition, prolonged antimicrobial therapy and chemotherapy to patients with cancer.1

However, these patients are at a high risk of developping infections from all types of central venous catheters (CVCs).2

Larcher et al. found that there was a paucity of studies comparing PICC-related complications between patients with and without cancer.1

More on this topic: Lung cancer: Help reduce the risk of BSI from PICC lines

Comparing infection rates in cancer vs noncancer patients placed with PICC lines1

The authors conducted a large, retrospective, single-centre, cohort study at the Nîmes University Hospital.

The objective of their study was to compare PICC-related bloodstream infection (BSI) incidence rates between cancer and noncancer patients.

A total of 627 in- and outpatients inserted with single- or double-lumen PICCs from 1 April 2018 to 1 April 2019 were included.

Out of a total of 721 PICCs, 240 were placed in patients with cancer and 481 in patients without cancer.

More on this topic: PICC, port or Hickman? Make the right choice in oncology

Number of lumens may be a factor in PICC-related BSI rates1

The authors found a higher incidence rate of PICC-related BSIs among patients with cancer undergoing chemotherapy.

However, when the results were adjusted for an imbalance between the cancer and noncancer groups, the only significant difference was in the number of lumens.

Their results suggest that double-lumen PICCs inserted in patients with cancer may lead to an increased risk of PICC-related BSI versus the immunosuppressive nature of chemotherapy.

According to Larcher et al., it is important to limit the number of lumens to the minimum necessary, change dressings every 4–7 days using aseptic technique, disinfect sites during administration, maintain proper hand hygiene and monitor the patient for clinical signs of infection.

Learn more about this study by Larcher et al. and how the number of lumens may impact PICC-related BSI rates in patients with and without cancer: Read the full study


  1. Larcher R, Barrigah-Benissan K, Ory J, et al. Peripherally Inserted Central Venous Catheter (PICC) Related Bloodstream Infection in Cancer Patients Treated with Chemotherapy Compared with Noncancer Patients: A Propensity-Score-Matched Analysis. Cancers (Basel). 2023;15(12). doi:10.3390/cancers15123253
  2. Böll B, Schalk E, Buchheidt D, et al. Central venous catheter-related infections in hematology and oncology: 2020 updated guidelines on diagnosis, management, and prevention by the Infectious Diseases Working Party (AGIHO) of the German Society of Hematology and Medical  Oncology (DGHO). Ann Hematol. 2021;100(1):239-259. doi:10.1007/s00277-020-04286-x

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