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Ted Kennedy Has a Brain Tumor

Doctors find malignant glioma in tests after seizure

TUESDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the last surviving brother in an American political dynasty, has a malignant brain tumor, his doctors reported Tuesday.

Doctors treating the 76-year-old senator, who has been in Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston since he suffered a seizure on Saturday, said that tests showed a tumor in his left parietal lobe. They said preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma, the Associated Press reported.

Dr. Lee Schwamm, vice chairman in the department of neurology, and Dr. Larry Ronan, a primary care physician, issued the following statement, according to MSNBC: "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. Some of the tests we had performed were inconclusive, particularly in light of the fact that the senator had severe narrowing of the left carotid artery and underwent surgery just six months ago."

They added: "However, preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe. The usual course of treatment includes combinations of various forms of radiation and chemotherapy. Decisions regarding the best course of treatment for Sen. Kennedy will be determined after further testing and analysis. Sen. Kennedy will remain at Massachusetts General Hospital for the next couple of days according to routine protocol. He remains in good spirits and full of energy."

Kennedy, the second-longest serving Democratic senator currently in Congress, suffered the seizure while at his Hyannisport compound and was taken by helicopter to Boston Saturday morning.

According to the Boston Globe, a government official who accompanied the senator on the helicopter trip from Hyannisport to Boston said that Kennedy had experienced a second seizure during the ride. The report of a second seizure has not been confirmed.

Kennedy's son Edward arrived at the hospital at about 1 p.m., the newspaper said, and his daughter, Kara, arrived about an hour later. His wife, Victoria, was at his bedside, the Globe reported, and his senatorial colleague from Massachusetts, John Kerry, also came to visit, as did his nephew, former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy.

In October 2007, a partially blocked carotid artery in Kennedy's neck was discovered during a routine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination. Doctors cleared the blockage, and Kennedy was released to convalesce in Hyannisport. The Globe reported at the time that the blockage could have caused a stroke, but that the chief of vascular surgery at Massachusetts General described the procedure as "routine, uneventful, and successful."

According to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, Sen. Kennedy's father, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, suffered a series of strokes in 1961 at the age of 73. The thromboses left him virtually paralyzed and unable to speak. He died in 1969.

Kennedy is the youngest of nine children, and became a U.S. senator in 1962. His older brother, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in 1963. Another brother, Robert Kennedy, who was also a U.S. Senator, was assassinated in 1968 during his presidential campaign.

More information

The National Library of Medicine has more on glioma.

SOURCES: May 20, 2008, Associated Press; MSNBC; May 17, 2008, Boston Globe; May 17, 2008, Office of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., press release; John F. Kennedy Memorial Library

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