Ted Kennedy Undergoes Successful Surgery for Brain Tumor

Surgeons at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, performed brain surgery on Senator Ted Kennedy this morning. His doctor has announced that Kennedy is out of surgery and the “procedure to treat his cancerous brain tumor “was successful.””

I am pleased to report that Senator Kennedy’s surgery was successful and accomplished our goals,” said Dr. Allan Freidman in a statement released by Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

A Kennedy spokeswoman said the senator told his wife Vicki after the procedure, “I feel like a million bucks, I think I’ll do that tomorrow.”

“The surgery lasted roughly three-and-a-half hours and is just the first step in Senator Kennedy’s treatment plan,” Freidman said, adding he was awake during the procedure and, “should experience no permanent neurological effects from the surgery.”

The 76-year-old senator now faces chemotherapy and radiation to treat his malignant glioma, a lethal type of brain tumor, Freidman said.

Kennedy said in a statement today “that over the past few days he and his wife, Vicki, “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.””

He selected a team of neuro-oncologists from Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital and Duke University Medical Center was to perform the surgery.

“I am deeply grateful to the people of Massachusetts and to my friends, colleagues and so many others across the country and around the world who have expressed their support and good wishes as I tackle this new and unexpected health challenge,” Kennedy said. “I am humbled by the outpouring and am strengthened by your prayers and kindness.”

After his treatment, Kennedy said, “I look forward to returning to the United States Senate and to doing everything I can to help elect Barack Obama as our next president.” Kennedy has endorsed Obama, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Dr. Friedman is “chief of the division of neurosurgery in the surgical department at Duke and also co-director of the neuro-oncology department.” He is considered to be ““one of the thought leaders” and a giant in the field of neuro-oncology, said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, speaking from Chicago, where more than 30,000 cancer specialists are attending an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference.”

Kennedy was “flown to Duke Medical Center over the weekend.” Along with his wife, Vicki at the hospital, is “the senator’s son, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) and his sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, Coley said. Other family members also are expected, an aide said.”

The NY Times notesreport in the Boston Globe that said “before leaving for North Carolina, Kennedy telephoned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to tell him of his plans and to highlight two significant pieces of legislation that Kennedy has in the works: higher education reauthorization and mental health parity.” 

The senator also called Senators Christopher Dodd and Barbara Mikulski to ask their help in shepherding the bills through their respective conference committees.

Get well soon, Senator! We’re all praying for you.

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2 Responses to Ted Kennedy Undergoes Successful Surgery for Brain Tumor

  1. john stone says:

    I am very happy that Ted Kennedy had a successful surgery.
    My prayers are with him. The state of Massachusetts is lucky to have him and John Kerry as well.

  2. I was so, so sorry to hear about Sen. Kennedy’s brain tumor. I am the widow of 15-year survivor of a cancerous brain tumor, an Astrocytoma III, which is either the same grade, or one grade lower, than Sen. Kennedy’s glioma. So I know how difficult the road ahead will be for him and his family.

    But there ARE long-term survivors, and many of them attribute their long-term survival to the combined use of conventional and alternative treatments – an integrative approach. Both my husband and I attributed his 15-year survival — approximately 12 years beyond what was predicted by the doctors — to this kind of approach. I hope that this option will be offered to Sen. Kennedy. Unfortunately, I sincerely doubt that it will be.

    Had we listened only to my husband Tim’s doctors, when he was first diagnosed in 1990, we never would have chosen this more integrative approach, since all they told us about were the standard treatments: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation — the same three treatments offered to Sen. Kennedy 18 years later.

    We did follow their advice, to a point: Tim underwent the three standard treatments. But we also did lots of research on our own and — with the help of a nutritionist, whose area of interest and expertise is nutritional approaches to cancer — came up with a combined approach. It seems to have worked.

    Unfortunately, most oncologists and neuro-oncologists remain unaware of the ways in which the two modalities — conventional and alternative — can work well together. But, what bothers me even more than the fact that they are unaware, is that most conventional doctors do not seem at all interested in learning about these “alternative” treatments — or about any treatments they did not learn about in medical school, or that they haven’t read about in their journals.

    When Sen. Kennedy was first diagnosed, Boston neuro-oncologist Dr. Andrew Norden was asked in an interview with Boston.com, whether there were any alternative or complementary therapies that might be recommended by Mr. Kennedy’s doctors. His answer: “. . . I am not aware of any alternative therapies that help to treat the tumors, but these treatments (e.g. acupuncture, massage, others) are very useful for management of symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, and headaches that some glioma patients experience.” (The emphasis above is mine.)

    The sad truth is that most conventional doctors are still unaware of the many very promising complementary treatments, other than the palliative ones that Dr. Norden mentioned. For instance, it’s obvious that Dr. Norden hadn’t read the article by nutritionist Dr. Jeanne Wallace, which was published in 2002 in the journal, Integrative Cancer Therapies. The article: “Nutritional and botanical modulation of the inflammatory cascade–eicosanoids, cyclooxygenases, and lipoxygenases–as an adjunct in cancer therapy.” The abstract is online. (Abstracts with information about many other nutritional therapies can be found online, too.) For those who are more ambitious – which SHOULD include most oncologists – Dr. Wallace’s complete 31-page article (which contains 364 footnotes/citations), may be found online, as well. It provides an excellent first step for conventional physicians interested in learning about integrative approaches to the treatment of cancer.

    Patients who are open to the integrative treatment of cancer – including patients with aggressive, cancerous brain tumors, like my husband’s and Ted Kennedy’s – may be able to survive much longer than the norm, with a combination of conventional and alternative treatments. It is therefore unfortunate that more doctors don’t know about these promising “alternative” treatments — especially in cases, such as gliomas, which normally have such poor outcomes.

    It’s simply not enough for doctors – and especially those who take care of cancer patients — to say that they are “not aware” of these integrative treatments. I wish they would realize that it’s very important for them to start educating themselves.

    Julia Schopick