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Breast Cancer: Airline Travel During Chemotherapy

Metal Detectors And Chemo Ports, Tissue Expanders, Syringes

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Updated September 10, 2007

Going on a trip during chemotherapy for breast cancer can be a nice break from the rigors of treatment. But since airline security is high, you may have metal on or in your body that will set off the alarms on metal detectors or wands. Being prepared will help you get through security with fewer problems. Plan ahead and know what to bring with you.

Chemotherapy Ports and Pumps May Set Off Metal Detectors

If you have an implanted port (chest or arm) or an under-the-skin pump, carry an identification card for the device. If you don’t have the ID card, ask your doctor for a note, written on letterhead that describes the type, purpose, and location of the device. Have the ID card or note with you, ready to show the security staff. Not every port or pump will set off the metal detectors, since some do not contain ferrous metal, and because different levels of security may be in place.

Tissue Expanders and Hand-held Metal Detector Wands

If you’re having breast reconstruction done, and have a tissue expander in place, you may have a magnet in the expander. The magnet helps your plastic surgeon find the valve through which saline is added to the expander. A hand-held metal detector wand will usually pick up such a magnet. Ask your surgeon for a note or ID card, explaining the placement and purpose of the magnet. Have the ID card or note ready to show to the security staff.

Syringes and X-ray Machines

If you need to carry an injectable medicine, such as Procrit or Neupagen, or you need an EpiPen(TM), get a letter from your doctor. The letter should state the reason for your medical need, and an explanation of the medicine. Make copies of your prescriptions for these and any medicines you are bringing, and carry those with you as well.
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