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Sen. Edward M. Kennedy Dies at 77
Date:8/26/2009

Diagnosed with brain tumor last year, his relentless optimism, new therapies helped him exceed expectations, experts say

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the last surviving brother in a unique American political dynasty and one of the most influential senators in history, died late Tuesday night at his summer home on Cape Cod after a 15-month battle with brain cancer. He was 77.

The Massachusetts lawmaker had continued to follow the current battle to reform health care in the United States -- the centerpiece of his legislative ambitions -- from his sickbed until his death, according to published reports.

There was no immediate word on funeral arrangements.

Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant glioma in the parietal lobe of his brain in May 2008, after suffering a seizure. By the time of his death, he had met and, by many accounts, exceeded medical expectations.

"He's at about the median survival which, for his age, is pretty good. He's at or exceeded expectations," Dr. Tara Morrison, head of neuro-oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, said shortly before Kennedy's death.

It was not revealed what type of tumor was found last year, but specialists speculated that it appeared likely to be a glioblastoma multiforme, which is more aggressive and more common in older people. With the most aggressive treatment, patients can be expected to live a median of about a year.

Soon after the diagnosis, Kennedy underwent surgery to remove part of the tumor. Partial removals are common when it's not possible to remove the entire tumor, according to Dr. Deepa Subramaniam, director of the brain tumor center at Georgetown University's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Being able to have surgery was the first good sign for Kennedy, as some patients aren't candidates at all.

"I believe doctors initially thought they weren't going to be
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