Placing a catheter for administering chemotherapy requires local anesthetic and insertion under the skin, explains the American Society of Clinical Oncology. After a short recovery period from this procedure, the catheter site should not be painful. Port pain is unusual and a sign of infection or other problems.
Chemotherapy catheters use either an external connector, as found in a PICC or Hickman catheter, or a port under the skin. During treatment, a nurse places a needle into the port, which should be no more painful than getting a shot, notes the American Cancer Society.
Despite the initial discomfort of placing the catheter and the effort required to keep the site clean, catheters prevent damage to tissue and veins from chemotherapy drugs. Catheters are also used to perform the frequent blood tests required during cancer treatment and to administer other medications, such as intravenous anti-nausea drugs or antibiotics, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.