Most other cancers form solid tumors, but leukemia does not. It is made up of single cells that travel all over the body. Surgery is used to ease problems caused by leukemia or to support other treatments.

Splenectomy

Leukemia cells travel in the blood and can become trapped inside the organs. The spleen is a small organ that filters the blood. It often becomes clogged. This causes the spleen to swell leading to pain, tiredness, a full feeling after eating very little, and easy bleeding.

Sometimes, the only way to ease these problems is to remove the spleen. Surgery can be done through small cuts in the belly. This is called laparoscopic surgery. You can live without a spleen, but it raises the risk of getting an infection such as pneumonia. There are steps you can take to lower this risk.

Access Catheters

An access catheter eliminates the need for repeated needlesticks. A catheter is a tube that is placed inside the body. The types are:

  • Central venous catheter —A tube is fed into a large vein in the chest with a wire. The tube links to a different tube that is fixed to the outside of the body. The tube can be used to give medicine or take blood samples.
  • Ventricular access catheter—A tube is fed into the fluid filled spaces in the brain through a small hole in the skull. The other end of the tube stays under the scalp. Drugs can be given into the fluid filled spaces with a small needle. If needed, the needle can be used to take samples.

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