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Sen. Kennedy Must Decide Brain Tumor Treatment Options

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, May 20, 2008 2:26 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Brain Tumor, Glioma

Ted Kennedy diagnosed with a malignant glioma brain tumor must now decide a treatment option.

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IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ official portrait of Sen. Ted Kennedy/ source: Kennedy, Senate

 

The office of Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) has announced he has a malignant brain tumor that is what likely led to his seizure Saturday morning.

The “malignant glioma” will have to be treated with radiation and/or chemotherapy and surgery.

In a statement released from his office, Dr. Lee Schwamm says, “Over the course of the last several days, we’ve done a series of tests on Senator Kennedy to determine the cause of his seizure. He has had no further seizures, remains in good overall condition, and is up and walking around the hospital.”

Sen. Kennedy had surgery six months ago for severe narrowing of the left carotid artery.

The doctor says the tumor is in the left parietal lobe. The family has yet to decide on a course of treatment.  Steroids could be used to reduce brain swelling.

CNN is reporting that the size and nature of the tumor will determine survivability.  Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN correspondent who is a neurosurgeon says that that area of the brain is responsible for the ability to speak and understand speech as well as the strength on the right side of the body. 

The Mayo Clinic uses 3-D computer models to help neurosurgeons plan the safest way to the brain tumor if surgery is an option.  The goal is to remove as much of the tumor while minimizing damage to the healthy tissues.

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons Web site indicates that the parietal lobes also help interpret signals that focus vision, hearing, motor, sensory and memory information.    

According to the National Cancer Institute, “malignant gliomas are the most common primary brain tumor.”  They account for more than 18,000 primary malignant brain tumors diagnosed each year in the U.S.

They are the second most common cause of cancer death in the 15 to 44 age group.  Seizures are a common symptom of gliomas. 

A published 1995 study from the University of South Florida College of Medicine finds that primary malignant brain tumors in the elderly is increasing, but that may be due partially to the introduction of computed tomography ( CT ) scanning.

In Sen. Kennedy’s age group, the incidents among those 75-79 years was 30 percent higher over a five year period beginning with 1981 -1984 when compared to 1986-1989.

Initially it was thought that Kennedy, 76, had a stroke when he became ill at the family home on Cape Cod.  That has now been ruled out.  

According to the National Cancer Institute, survival depends on the grade of the tumor but is generally poor.  A grade III malignant glioma survival is three to five years. 

The more aggressive form, a grade IV or glioblastoma multiforme, has a survival rate of less than one year.

Kennedy remains in Massachusetts General Hospital where he is said to be in good spirits and full of energy. # 


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