Tags: Kennedy | Out | of | surgery

Kennedy Out of 'Successful' Brain Surgery

Monday, 02 Jun 2008 03:13 PM

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DURHAM, N.C. -- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy underwent what his doctors called successful surgery Monday to treat his cancerous brain tumor, and told his wife shortly after that he felt "like a million bucks," a family spokeswoman said.

The surgery at Duke University Medical Center took about 3 1/2 hours. He is expected to undergo chemotherapy and radiation in coming weeks, and will remain at the North Carolina facility for about a week.

The 76-year-old Massachusetts Democrat was diagnosed last month with a malignant glioma, a lethal type of brain tumor. Experts had said Dr. Allan Friedman - the top neurosurgeon at Duke and an internationally known tumor and vascular surgeon - was likely try to remove as much of the tumor as possible while balancing the risk of harming healthy brain tissue that affects movement and speech.

Friedman said the surgery "was successful and accomplished our goals." Kennedy was awake during the procedure, and should not experience any permanent neurological effects, he said.

"After a brief recuperation, he will begin targeted radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital and chemotherapy treatment," Friedman said. "I hope that everyone will join us in praying for Senator Kennedy to have an uneventful and robust recovery."

Family spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said Kennedy spoke to his wife, Vicki, and told her: "I feel like a million bucks. I think I'll do that again tomorrow."

Kennedy was hospitalized May 17 at Massachusetts General Hospital after undergoing a seizure at his home on Cape Cod. Doctors later announced that he had a malignant glioma in his left parietal lobe, a brain region that governs sensation but also plays some role in movement and language. A malignant glioma is one of the worst kinds of brain cancer, and malignant gliomas are diagnosed in about 9,000 Americans a year.

Kennedy said in a statement released by his office earlier in the day that he and his wife "along with my outstanding team of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital, have consulted with experts from around the country and have decided that the best course of action for my brain tumor is targeted surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation."

Details about Kennedy's particular type of tumor, which plays a key role in survival odds, have not been disclosed. Some cancer specialists say it appears likely to be a glioblastoma multiforme - a serious and tough-to-remove type - because other kinds of brain tumors are more common in younger people.

Typical radiation treatment is five days a week for a month, using 3-D imaging techniques that narrowly deliver the beams to the tumor, affecting as little surrounding tissue as possible. Experts said the surgery could give subsequent treatments a better chance of working.

"Almost no malignant gliomas are cured by surgery, but many of us believe that the more you get out, the next treatments, whether they be radiation or chemotherapy, have a better chance of working because there's less tumor there to fight," said Dr. Matthew Ewend, neurosurgery chief at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kennedy has a history of seeking top medical care available for his family. He pulled daughter Kara out of Johns Hopkins and brought her to a Boston hospital when he was not satisfied with the initial course of treatment she was getting for lung cancer five years ago.

In addition to his congressional health insurance plan, which is often described as one of the most generous in the country, Kennedy's wealth gives him the means to afford the best possible health care. The senator is known to reach into his own pocket and pay supplemental salary to staffers who otherwise might be tempted to leave his office for better paying jobs.

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