Childhood Leukemia Overview

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Treating Leukemia in Children TOPICS

Surgery for childhood leukemia

Surgery has only a small role in treating leukemia. This is because leukemia is a disease of blood and bone marrow and cannot be cured with surgery.

Surgery may be used before chemotherapy to put a small plastic tube into a large vein. The tube, called a central venous catheter or a venous access device (VAD), allows medicines such as chemotherapy to be given and blood samples to be removed without the need for repeated needlesticks. The end of the tube stays just under the skin or sticks out in the chest area or upper arm. Parents should be taught how to care for the VAD.

In cases where a boy with leukemia has a relapse of the disease in a testicle, surgery may be done to remove the testicle (along with giving chemotherapy to treat the rest of the body).

For more on surgery as a treatment for cancer, see our document A Guide to Cancer Surgery.

Last Medical Review: 11/11/2013
Last Revised: 02/03/2014