Local Experts Weigh-in on Kennedy's Prognosis

May 20, 2008 4:07:43 PM PDT
As doctors at Massachusetts General hospital annouce Senator Edward Kennedy has a cancerous brain tumor, local doctors explain what may be in store for the senator.

Dr. Kevin Judy is a neurosurgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He isn't treating Senator Edward Kennedy, but he specializes in brain tumors.

He refers to the location of Kennedy's tumor as "grand central station," because controls speech, peripheral vision and right-sided strength. Kennedy's doctors will now determine the type and grade of the tumor called a glioma. They're graded from one to four with four being the worst.

Dr. Judy said, "Since Kennedy has a malignant glioma, it's (most likely) either a grade 3 or 4." He said treatment can include six weeks of radiation and up to a year of chemotherapy and the 76-year-old senator from Massachusetts will likely face a tough road ahead. "These are tumors for which we have treatments but no cure," Judy said.

Kennedy's age may be a factor in his prognosis. Dr. Judy said typically older patients don't do as well but that's doesn't rule-out hope. "Even though he's 76-year-old, I have patients his age and older who have done well with this tumor," he said.

The typical survival rate for a severe malignant glioma is three to five years.