Leukemia--Acute Lymphocytic Overview

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Treating Leukemia - Acute Lymphocytic (ALL) in Adults TOPICS

Surgery for acute lymphocytic leukemia

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. For example, a plastic tube can be placed in a large vein. The tube, called a venous access device, is for drugs to be given and blood samples removed. This lowers the number of needle sticks needed during treatment. The patient must learn how to take care of the venous access device to prevent it from getting infected.

Another device that can be placed to aid treatment is called an Ommaya reservoir. It is used to give chemotherapy into the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord (the cerebrospinal fluid or CSF). It is made up of a small dome-like device attached to a small tube. The dome part 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. This device can also be used to remove samples of CSF for testing (instead of doing a lumbar puncture/spinal tap). This device stays in place until treatment is done.

Last Medical Review: 06/25/2013
Last Revised: 02/07/2014