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Brain Cancer Health Center

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Sen. Ted Kennedy Leaves Hospital

Kennedy Goes Home to Await Further Test Results to Determine Brain Cancer Treatment
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 21, 2008 -- Sen. Edward Kennedy, diagnosed yesterday with brain cancer, headed to his Cape Cod, Mass., home today after being discharged from Massachusetts General Hospital.

"Senator Kennedy has recovered remarkably quickly from his Monday procedure" and was therefore released a day ahead of schedule, say Kennedy's doctors, who include Lee Schwamm, MD, vice chairman of the neurology department at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Larry Ronan, MD, a primary care physician at the same hospital.

Kennedy will stay at his Cape Cod home "while we await further test results and determine treatment plans. He's feeling well and eager to get started," say Schwamm and Ronan.

Kennedy's brain tumor is a malignant glioma in his left parietal lobe, an area of the brain involved in speech. WebMD spoke with Deborah Heros, MD, associate professor of clinical neurology and neuro-oncology at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, about cutting-edge treatments for malignant gliomas.

Heros is not involved in Kennedy's treatment or diagnosis. She notes that the location of Sen. Kennedy's glioma would likely rule out surgery to remove the tumor.

What are the latest or experimental treatments for malignant gliomas, and would Sen. Kennedy be a candidate for them?

The foundation for treatment of a glioma, through the years, has been radiation therapy. Most treatment plans or protocols start with radiation. The oral chemotherapy drug temozolomide (Temodar) has also become part of that initial plan that has been shown to be the most promising treatment. Most treatment begins with that combination of the radiation and the temozolomide.

There are many centers that are looking into newer treatments. Many of them are treatments that either could be added or perhaps used following the radiation and the temozolomide. ...

Some of the newer therapies include more specific chemotherapy agents that we call targeted therapies. We call them targeted therapies because the medication or chemotherapy has been developed to target a specific protein or function of the tumor cell to interfere with the tumor cell growth.

Many people will recognize the name Avastin as being one of the most popular and promising targeted therapies for many kinds of tumors and also gliomas. This targets the tumor's ability to produce new blood vessels, and the tumor needs new blood vessels to grow. The targeted therapy Avastin prevents the tumor from being able to produce new blood vessels. And so, in a sense, the tumor starves itself or cannot continue to grow because it's run out of its blood supply. Some physicians are using Avastin in a clinical protocol with other chemotherapeutic agents and some are using it along with the temozolomide during different phases of the treatment. That could be one add-on that maybe some of the physicians involved in Sen. Kennedy's care are considering.

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