Leukemia--Acute Myeloid (Myelogenous)

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Treating Leukemia - Acute Myeloid (AML) TOPICS

Surgery for acute myeloid leukemia

Surgery has a very limited role in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia. Because leukemia cells spread widely throughout the bone marrow and to many other organs, it is not possible to cure this type of cancer with surgery. Surgery rarely has any role even in the diagnosis, since a bone marrow aspirate and biopsy can usually diagnose leukemia. On rare occasions, an isolated tumor of leukemia cells (known as a granulocytic sarcoma or a chloroma) may be treated with surgery.

Often before chemotherapy is about to start, a small plastic tube, called a central venous catheter or venous access device (VAD), is inserted into a large vein. This may be done by a surgeon in the operating room, or by a special type of radiologist. The end of the tube is just under the skin or sticks out in the chest area or upper arm. The VAD is left in place during treatment to give intravenous (IV) drugs, such as chemotherapy, and to take blood samples. This lowers the number of needle sticks needed during treatment. It is very important for the patient to learn how to care for the VAD to keep it from getting infected.

Last Medical Review: 07/24/2013
Last Revised: 02/07/2014