A diagnosis has been obtained on Senator Ted Kennedy’s condition: He has a malignant brain tumor. Physicians have been running tests to determine the cause of two seizures he suffered on Saturday at his home in Hyannis, Massachusetts.
"Preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe," according to a statement from the doctors treating Senator Kennedy. "Decisions regarding the best course of treatment for Senator Kennedy will be determined after further testing and analysis," the doctors continued.
Gliomas are a relatively rare form of cancer, but are the most common type of brain tumor. Overall, brain and central nervous system tumors occur in approximately 6.7% per 100,000 people; about half of these are gliomas. Gliomas occur more frequent with advancing age.
This is a highly aggressive form of brain cancer. Gliomas are tumors, usually malignant which are derived from the Glia cells of the brain or of the spinal cord. The Glia cells act as the connective tissue of the central nervous system. The growing mass of cells in a brain tumor bullies healthy cells by pushing them out of their way and squeezing them against the skull. This hinders the brain's ability to orchestrate life functions.
It can take four days or more for a pathologist to determine the specific type of glioma. Depending on the type of glioma and the course of treatment, the prognosis, in general, can range widely, from 50 percent survival rate at one year to as much as 40 percent at 10 years, for the least aggressive kind.
In the Kennedy case, the affected area of the brain (above the ear) controls speech, motor skills and the ability to understand language Testing is being done to determine the further course of treatment and whether or not to rule out surgical intervention. It will need to be determined if the tumor is Grade 3 or 4. Physicians plan to treat the tumor with radiation and chemotherapy.
Depending on the tumor's size and location, seizures, paralysis, behavior changes, vision or speech difficulties and dizziness are a some of the symptoms that can occur. A glioma tumor is particularly damaging because it tends to quickly sprout and spread within the brain. Each year, approximately 20,000 Americans find out that they have a glioma. More than half die within 18 months. However, many cutting edge treatments for this condition have been developed in recent years.
One known treatment, a form of intensive chemotherapy, commonly known as High Dose Methotrexate with Citrovorum Factor Rescue was recently perfected as a most effective treatment for Brain Gliomas (glioblastoma multiforme, anaplastic astrocytomas, oligodendroglioma and related tumors).. Over 200 patients with brain gliomas have been successfully treated with this method.
The youngest of nine children, Ted Kennedy is the only surviving Kennedy son. The Ted Kennedy family has been unusually affected by cancer. Two of his three children and his first wife are cancer survivors. His son, Edward Kennedy Jr., was treated for bone cancer in 1973 at the age of 12. His daughter, Kara Kennedy Allen, was treated for lung cancer in 2003. His first wife, Joan Kennedy, was treated for breast cancer in 2005.
While unsuccessful as a Presidential candidate, Kennedy has had a distinguished record of service in the Senate. Today, Senator Kennedy received an early release from the hospital and went back to his Hyannis, Massachusetts home. He appeared to be in excellent spirits. Senator Kennedy has always managed to face the many challenges of his life and overcome them. The prayers and wishes for his full recovery will not be in short supply.