Skip to content

    Brain Cancer Health Center

    Font Size

    Sen. Ted Kennedy Has Brain Cancer

    Doctors Diagnose Kennedy With Malignant Brain Tumor


    The newer treatments available include oral chemotherapy. Oftentimes, the oral chemotherapy is combined with the radiation treatments over six weeks and people tolerate it well. Hopefully, he'll be released from the hospital soon and be able to begin his treatment as an outpatient.

    You mentioned surgery. What kind of surgery would that be?

    Typically surgery can be a biopsy alone to identify and document the specific type of tumor and prove that it is a tumor. A biopsy alone is done if the tumor is located either deep in the brain or in an area where removing tissue could cause neurological impairment [brain damage]. Apparently, this may have been on the left side of his brain, where speech function is located. So that may have been the reason why they chose to do a biopsy rather than what we call a craniotomy, with tumor removal. If the tumor is in an area that can be operated on, sometimes a larger surgical procedure is done to remove as much tumor as possible. The limiting factor is the location in the brain.

    What is the left parietal lobe involved in?

    The left parietal lobe does control speech and various parts of language so that the decision needs to be made by the neurosurgeon of what type of surgical procedure is the safest.

    Are radiation and chemotherapy standard?

    Very standard. Even if it is located in an area that can be operated on more extensively, we know we cannot remove all of the tumor because it is what we call an infiltrating tumor. We talk about rootlets or tentacles of tumor that grow into the brain, almost like fingers. ... We don't [expect] to be able to remove all of it surgically, so we really rely on ... radiation and chemotherapy.

    What is the prognosis for this sort of condition?

    Well, it is a serious tumor. Patients tolerate the radiation and chemotherapy well, and we have many patients that have responded well to this combination of treatment. I think that's how we usually describe the prognosis -- it's a wait-and-see type of tumor where we have to see how well he responds to additional treatment.

    Today on WebMD

    doctor and patient
    How to know when it’s time for home care
    doctory with x-ray
    Here are 10 to know.
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
    Malignant Gliomas
    Pets Improve Your Health
    Headache Emergencies
    life after a brain tumor

    Would you consider trying alternative or complementary therapies?