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Intrathecal Chemotherapy


Intrathecal chemotherapy (chemo) is given to shrink the tumor or kill cancer cells in your spinal canal or brain. Intrathecal chemo is usually given in a hospital or clinic that specializes in cancer.



  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your oncologist as directed:

You may need to return several days in a row for treatment. You may need to see your oncologist for ongoing tests and treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Stay away from people who are sick: This decreases your risk of infection. Ask for more instructions about how to prevent infections.
  • Drink liquids as directed: Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may also need to replace fluid if you are vomiting from cancer treatments.
  • Eat healthy foods: Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Several small meals a day may be easier to eat than a few large meals.

Contact your oncologist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have nausea, are vomiting, or have no appetite for several days.
  • You are very tired and have no energy for several days.
  • You notice sores or white spots in your mouth.
  • You have constipation or diarrhea for longer than a day.
  • You feel depressed.
  • You heart beats faster than usual.
  • You have frequent, painful urination.
  • You have a cough that is new, or that does not go away within a few days.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have chest pain, shortness of breath, or trouble breathing.
  • You feel confused or have a severe headache that does not go away within a day.
  • Your arms or legs are weak, or you have trouble walking or seeing.
  • You have increased neck pain, or pain in other areas.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You see blood in your urine or bowel movements.
  • You feel weak, dizzy, or faint.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.