Intrathecal Chemotherapy

Intrathecal Chemotherapy

There are many types of chemotherapies because chemotherapy is the effective way to treat the cancer patients. One such type is intrathecal chemotherapy. We can use its short form as well which is it intrathecal chemotherapy. 

Intrathecal chemotherapy is the drug therapy and doctors administer these drugs in the cerebrospinal fluid. The difference between intrathecal chemotherapy and other form of chemo is that in other types oncologists administer the drugs directly into the bloodstream of cancer patients but in intrathecal chemotherapy doctors give the chemo in the cerebrospinal fluid. Cerebrospinal fluid is that fluid which surrounds the brain and spinal cord. IT is very effective and oncologists use it when they want to make sure that cancer does not spread to other areas from cerebrospinal.

In which scenario Intrathecal chemotherapy is necessary

Different cancers need different types of chemotherapy treatment and which cancer patient needs which chemotherapy treatment depends on two things. First, a patient is suffering from which kind of cancer and second for that kind of cancer does he or she needs intrathecal chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is tricky and not every chemo works for every cancer patient.  This is a reason why there are types of chemotherapy. When intrathecal chemotherapy is not suitable for the cancer patients then in its replacement doctors administer intravenous chemotherapy drugs.

How long is Intrathecal chemotherapy treatment?

This type of chemo takes the period of several months or maybe more and this type of treatment works in cycle. This means that doctors give chemo drugs for one session and then patients wait for another session. In between the sessions, there is a break and the break period can vary from one week to 2 weeks. 

Break is necessary in between cycles because doctors make sure that new cells grow and the abnormal cancerous cells die. For this type of chemotherapy, you need at least three to four cycles of treatment.

Possible preparations for Intrathecal chemotherapy treatment

Usually before the intrathecal chemotherapy, treatment patients take the blood thinners. If you are going for intrathecal chemotherapy treatment that it is necessary that you stop taking blood thinners several days before the treatment. Taking the blood thinners can enhance the chance of bleeding in your spine and brain and doctors cannot risk that. 

It is always best that you take someone along when you are going for intrathecal chemotherapy because you may feel drowsy or lazy after the extensive session of intrathecal chemotherapy treatment.

Why there is a need for Ommaya Reservoirs in Intrathecal chemotherapy treatment?

In intrathecal chemotherapy, treatment doctors do not insert the drugs directly into the CSF. Instead, doctors give this type of chemo through Ommaya reservoir. It is a small container, which doctor place under your scalp during surgery.

During the procedure of surgery doctor’s place a small tube inside your brain and then connect that tube with Ommaya reservoirs. After that doctors make sure that they insert the needle first in your scalp and then into the Ommaya reservoir.

This is how oncologists insert the chemo into the reservoir. The drugs then travel through CSF and try to kill the cancerous cells in the fluid. Mostly intrathecal chemotherapy is best for brain cancer because this chemo helps to kill the cancerous cells in the brain or spine. Once oncologists administer the drugs to the Reservoir then they remove the needle and cover the area with the bandage.

Intrathecal chemotherapy Complications 

Every type of chemotherapy comes with side effects and intrathecal chemotherapy does have its own share of complications. Patients who go through this type of chemo can experience headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Intrathecal chemotherapy treatment has different Side Effects than the other types of chemotherapy. Intrathecal chemotherapy side effects include sensitivity to light. This so can happen that the spinal fluid leak from the LP site during the LP session. Your nerves and spinal cord can be sensitive to damage if you are taking the chemo drugs through Ommaya reservoir. The reservoirs can also break inside your scalp. After going through this chemo, patients can also experience allergic reactions for infections in the brain and spinal cord.

The major intrathecal chemotherapy side effect is that it can cause seizures and not the regular seizures but the intense ones.  Intrathecal chemotherapy treatment can be life threatening and this is the reason why doctors do not prescribe it much.

How doctors make sure that the Intrathecal chemotherapy treatment is working?

It is very important to know for doctors that intrathecal chemotherapy treatment is working for certain cancers and for that; they take the samples after the administration of intrathecal chemotherapy drugs. Doctors then send the samples to the lab and then through CT scan or MRI pictures doctor see if this treatment is working for cancer patients or not. Through these samples doctor also see if the cancer is spreading to other parts from the CFC or this is not the case.

Precautions after IT chemo 

It is important to take some precautions after going through Intrathecal chemotherapy treatment. It is important for the patients of Cancer to drink plenty of water after IT chemo to prevent the headache. Liquid is the best cure for headache and nausea.

To prevent the infections it is important that the patients stay away from people who are sick. Hygiene is important for people who go through IT chemotherapy. Along with this, it is necessary for the IT patients to take as much rest as they can.

Intrathecal chemotherapy treatment is best for all those patients who are suffering from brain cancer or any kind of spine injury. There are symptoms of brain cancer and if you are feeling nausea, vision problems, severe headache, confusion, excessive urination, and faintness then it is time that you consult a doctor. You never know when there is bleeding inside your brain so it is always best to take precautions. At the end of the day, it is up to us to make our health our Priority and the only way through which we can make sure that our body is cancer free is by paying the regular visit to doctors. Make sure you do that.

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