Diving with Chemotherapy

I have been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. The doctor put a port in my chest a few days ago, and the current treatment plan involves six months of chemotherapy followed by a double mastectomy. I assume I will be beached for the next year, but my doctors aren't trained in dive medicine, and I haven't found much reputable research on the internet. While I currently feel too lousy to dive, I'd love to do a shallow dive as soon as I'm feeling better just to keep my gills wet. I have the following questions:
1.*Can I dive with a chemo port? Will the pressure be a risk?
2.*How about diving without a port during a chemotherapy cycle? Is there any correlation between chemo and DCS?
3.Would depth and pressure be variables that would affect my safety?

We are sorry to learn of your diagnosis but are happy to hear your treatment is already under way. Your primary-care physician and/or oncologist are your best resources, and DAN is always available to consult with them as needed.

The general response about returning to diving after any major health issue, including cancer, is that you should be released by your physician for full and unrestricted activity, with no limitations on mobility or lifting and with excellent exercise tolerance for extended swimming or exertion. If you have any residual pain, especially with certain motions, knowing your baseline will help you recognize differences between the norm and potential DCS symptoms. Note, however, that such symptoms could lead to diagnostic confusion, so we strongly recommend you dive conservatively.

There is no recognized correlation between chemotherapy and DCS, but some cancer treatments occasionally lead to pulmonary fibrosis, and radiation can injure adjacent lung tissue; both of these conditions would increase your risk of pulmonary injury. Prior to returning to diving, consider asking for a pulmonary workup that includes a high-resolution spiral CT scan of your lungs to determine lung health.

Because water acts as a whole-body pressure garment, there is a documented fluid shift from the periphery (arms and legs) to the core (torso and head) during diving, even at very shallow depths. Your doctor should therefore also perform a thorough cardiac evaluation, including a stress test, to determine whether your heart and lungs will be healthy enough and capable of handling this fluid shift.

Cancer treatments often affect your immune system, and the diving environment can be a potential source of infection. Travel also exposes you to a host of infectious organisms not found in the home setting, so your immune status is a major point to discuss with your physician.

The good news is that chemo ports, if healed and free from complications, typically pose no problems with implanted devices such as a Port-A-Cath®. These ports are fluid-filled and thus noncompressible at recreational diving depths.

After you are cleared to dive, consider taking all your dive gear to a pool or other shallow, confined environment. Practice swimming laps, including overhand strokes, and include the motions of climbing a boat ladder and handing up gear to a crew member. Test your strap configuration, arm movements and weighting. You might have to adjust your straps or shift from integrated weights to a weight belt. Because a double mastectomy will potentially affect the chest musculature, it may also affect your ability to swim. While a lot of recreational diving is easy and relaxing, DAN encourages all divers to prepare for the unexpected, including strong currents, surfacing far from your boat or buddy and self-rescue.

Your immediate focus should be on treatment and recovery. Once treatments are complete and you are physically fit, planning your return to diving is appropriate.
— Frances Smith, EMT-P, DMT
© Alert Diver — Q2 Spring 2018


 2018 (60)
 2016 (119)
After anaesthesia Air Quality Altitude sickness Annual renewal Apnea Arthroscopic surgery BCD Badages Bag valve mask Bandaids Barbell back squat Bench press Bouyancy compensators Boyle's Law Boyle\'s Law Boyle\\\'s Law Boyle\\\\\\\'s Law Boyle\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Law Brain Breast Cancer Breath hold Breath-hold Bruising Buoyancy Burnshield CGASA CO2 Camera settings Cancer Remission Cancer treatments Cancer Cape Town Dive Festival Carbon dioxide Charles' Law Charles\' Law Charles\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' Law Chemotherapy Coastalexcursion Cold Water Cold care Cold Conservation Contaminants Corals Cutaneous decompression DAN Profile DAN Researchers DAN medics DAN report DCI DCS Decompressions sickness DCS DReams Dalton's Law Dalton\'s Law Dalton\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Law Decompression Illness Decompression Sickness Decompression illsnes Diseases Dive Instruction Dive Instructor Dive accidents Dive computers Dive health Dive medicines Dive medicine Dive safety Dive staff Diveleaders Divers Alert Diving Kids Diving career Diving emergencies Diving injuries Diving suspended Diving Domestic Dr Rob Schneider EAP Ear pressure Ears injuries Emergency plans Environmental impact Equipment care Exercise Eye injuries FAQ Fatigue First Aid Equipment First Aid kits Fish Fitness Francois Burman Free diving Freediver Gas laws Gastric bypass Gordon Hiles HELP Haemorhoid treatment Health practitioner Heart High temperatures Hot Hydrostatic pressure Hypothermia Indian Ocean Inert gas Infections Instinct Instructors International travel International Irritation Kids scubadiver Labour laws Legislation Leukemis Liability Risks Life expectancy Lifestyle Low blood pressure Lung injuries MOD Maintenance Mammalian effect Maximum operating depth Medical Q Medical questionaire Medical statement Middle ear pressure Military front press More pressure Mycobacterium marinum Nitrox Non-rebreather Mask Nosebleeds O2 providers O2 servicing OOxygen maintenance Ocean pollution Orbital implants Oronasal mask Oxygen Cylinder Oxygen Units Oxygen deicit Oxygen ears Oxygen equipment Oxygen masks Oxygen supply Oxygen therapy Part 3 Plastic Pneumothorax Pool Diving Pulmanologist Pulmonary Bleb Radio communications Rashes Report incidents Rescue training Resume diving SABS 019 Safety Save our seas Science Scuba Injury Scuba children Scuba dive Scuba health Scubalearners Skin Bends Skin outbreak Skin rash Snorkeling Sodwana Bay Splits Squeezes Supplemental oxygen Surgeries Surgery The Bends The truth Thermal Notions Tides Travel tips Travel Tweezers Unconsciousness Underwater photographer Underwater pho Vaccines Vagus nerve Valsalva manoeuvers Vasvagal Syncope White balance Winter Wound dressings Wreck dive Youth diver abrasion air-cushioned alert diver altitude antibiotics antiseptics bandages bent-over barbell rows breathing air calories burn cardiovascular checklist chemo port child clearances closed circuit scuba currents cuts dead lift decompression algorithms decongestants dehydration dive injuries dive medicing dive ready child dive reflex dive tribe diver rescue dive diving attraction doctors domestic travel dri-suits dry mucous membranes dry suits dry ear spaces electroytes emergency action plans emergency assessment equalizing exposure injuries flexible tubing health hospital humidity immersion pulmonary edema (IPE join DAN longevity lower stress marine pathogens medical procedures medical risk assesment minor illness mucous membranes nasal steroids nasal newdivers nitrogen bubbles off-gassed operating theatre outgas pain plasters post dive preserve rebreather mask rebreathers risk areas saturation scissors scuba equipment scuba single use sinus infections stings strength tecnical diver thermal protection training trimix unified standards warmers water quality