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Sen. Kennedy Undergoing Surgery for Brain Tumor
Date:6/2/2008

He has a malignant glioma, an especially lethal type of brain tumor

MONDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was undergoing surgery Monday for the malignant brain tumor that was diagnosed last month.

The 76-year-old senator was having the surgery for a malignant glioma, an especially lethal type of brain tumor, at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. A statement from the Massachusetts Democrat's office said he would be operated on by one of the nation's top neurosurgeons, Dr. Allan Friedman, neurosurgeon-in-chief at Duke, the Boston Globe reported.

The surgery, expected to last approximately six hours, will be followed by weeks and possibly months of chemotherapy and radiation, the newspaper reported.

The surgery is considered the most aggressive approach that Kennedy could select to treat his tumor. The decision to opt for surgery was considered something of a surprise, the Globe said, because Kennedy's doctors did not mention surgery as an option after the tumor diagnosis was announced almost two weeks ago. Instead, Kennedy's doctors said the focus of treatment would be radiation and chemotherapy.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,810 malignant tumors of the brain or spinal cord will be diagnosed this year in the United States. Approximately 13,070 people -- 7,420 men and 5,650 women -- will die from these malignant tumors. The cancers account for about 1.3 percent of all cancers and 2.2 percent of all cancer-related deaths in the United States.

A patient's prognosis depends on the "grade" of the tumor, said Dr. Isabelle Germano, co-director of The Radiosurgery Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Five-year survival rates for low-grade (grade 1) tumors can be as high as 95 percent; for grade 4 tumors, five-year survival plummets to about 5 percent, she said.

Dr. Deepa Subramaniam, director of the brain tumor
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