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Ted Kennedy Diagnosed with a Glioma (Malignant BrainTumor)

I was only twelve at the time, but I’ve always remembered Senator Ted Kennedy’s concession speech from the 1980 Democratic Convention in NYC. He had entered the hall trailing incumbent Jimmy Carter’s number of pledged delegate votes by a whopping 40%, and had he been successful in his attempt to allow pledged delegates to change their votes at the last minute, those memorable words could have morphed into an acceptance speech for the party’s nomination. What struck me then, and has always stayed with me, was the odds were irrelevant. Meaningless. Incidental. My guess is that’s how he’ll face his next great fight.

Sighs of relief were common as many of us heard that a stroke was not the cause of a seizure he experienced over the weekend. But then news broke with that terrifying combination of words…”diagnosed” and “brain tumor.

What’s the Diagnosis?

Doctors located a tumor in Senator Kennedy’s left parietal lobe. A biopsy reveled that the tumor was a malignant glioma.

What is a Malignant Glioma?
Of the close to 20,000 brain tumors diagnosed every year, malignant glioma is the most common type and frequently occurs in older Americans. They can be located in the cerebrum as is the case with Senator Kennedy and most adults, or in the cerebellum, much more common in children.

What are the Typical Symptoms?

In Senator Kennedy’s case, a seizure led to the diagnosis. Other common symptoms include headaches, difficulty with speech, walking or other motor functions, numbness or vomiting.

What are the Treatment Options?
Depending on the size of the tumor, surgery could be the first option, albeit a risky one. If the tumor’s size or location eliminates surgical options, as appears to be the case with Senator Kennedy, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy may be utilized.

What’s the Prognosis?

Malignant gliomas are extremely aggressive tumors and the outlook is typically grim. For the most severe grade gliomas (a “4” on a 1 to 4 scale) the average survival time is less than 12 months. Very few diagnosed with any giloma survive more than three years.

It’s always hard to come up with the right words at times like this, so I’ll borrow from Senator Kennedy’s own inspirational speech from 1980 which ended with some seemingly relevant words…
“For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

By Jerry Gulley
Director of Content, Healthline.com
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The Healthline Editorial team writes about the latest health news, policy, and research.

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