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Surgery plays a very small part in the treatment of acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). Because leukemia cells spread widely throughout the bone marrow and to many other organs, it is not possible to cure this type of cancer by surgery.

Surgery can be used to help give treatment. To lower the number of needle sticks you’ll need during treatment, a plastic tube called a venous access device can be placed in a large vein. This tube makes it easier to put drugs into the blood stream or remove blood samples. If you get a venous access device, you will be shown how to take care of it to prevent it from getting infected.

If you will be getting chemotherapy in the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord (the cerebrospinal fluid or CSF), you might also have a device called an Ommaya reservoir placed. This device is made up of a small dome that sits under the skin of the scalp, with the tube going through a hole in the skull and into the CSF in one of the cavities of the brain. An Ommaya reservoir also lets doctors take samples of CSF for testing without doing a lumbar puncture/spinal tap. The device stays in place until treatment is done.

Last Medical Review: 12/08/2014
Last Revised: 02/22/2016