Brain Tumor Research an Ongoing Campaign
Byline: Marco Santana
Sen. Edward Kennedy's glioma is most likely one of the most aggressive - and therefore most dangerous - brain tumors, but recent research on brain tumors at many institutions has aimed to increase a patient's life expectancy, a local cancer expert says.
Dr. M. Kelly Nicholas, director of neuro-oncology in the Brain Tumor Center at the University of Chicago, said the malignant glioma Kennedy, 76, was diagnosed with May 19 is a very aggressive type of brain tumor.
Although the specific diagnosis has not been disclosed, Kennedy's age would indicate his tumor to be of a high grade, perhaps even the worst kind: a Stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, Nicholas said.
Less than 9 percent of GBM patients live beyond two years and survival rates decrease with age, according to Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, an organization devoted to finding a cure.
The tumor's malignancy means it must be at least a Stage 3 tumor.
News agencies reported surgery June 2 at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., successfully reduced the size of Kennedy's tumor.
St. Charles resident Ken Bieschke was diagnosed with a malignant glioma - so named because it arises from glial, or supportive, tissue of the brain - in February of 2007. The doctors didn't sugarcoat his prognosis.
"When you hear the word 'cancer,' most people think they have a fight to prepare for," said Ken's wife, Barb. "This is a different kind of cancer. You're just told 'OK, go home and get your business done.' That's a weird feeling. …