What is intrathecal chemotherapy for leukemia?

Intrathecal chemotherapy (chemo) is a highly-targeted method of delivering leukemia treatment. It allows the chemotherapy to go where it can directly destroy the cancer cells.

This type of chemotherapy is given directly into the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord) to reach leukemia cells in the central nervous system. It is delivered either through a lumbar puncture (also called a spinal tap), or through a special device placed under the scalp.

By injecting drugs directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, intrathecal chemotherapy can help target leukemia cells that have spread to the central nervous system.

After you receive intrathecal chemo, you will probably be asked to lay flat to allow the chemotherapy to reach the areas of the spinal cord and brain. To make you more comfortable during this time, a mind-body therapist can practice relaxation therapies with you.

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