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Sen. Edward Kennedy has cancerous brain tumor


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Sen. Edward Kennedy has cancerous brain tumor By GLEN JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer

12 minutes ago

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor Tuesday in what could be the grim final chapter in a life marked by exhilarating triumph and shattering tragedy. Some experts gave the liberal lion less than a year to live.

Doctors discovered the tumor after the 76-year-old senator and sole surviving son of America's most storied political family suffered a seizure over the weekend. The diagnosis cast a pall over Capitol Hill, where the Massachusetts Democrat has served since 1962, and came as a shock to a family all too accustomed to sudden, calamitous news.

"Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy family have faced adversity more times in more instances with more courage and more determination and more grace than most families have to," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. "Every one of us knows what a big heart this fellow has. He's helped millions and millions of people — from the biggest of legislation on the floor to the most personal."

Kerry added: "This guy is one unbelievable fighter."

Kennedy's doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital said he had a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe, a region of the brain that helps govern sensation, movement and language.

Seizures can be caused by a wide variety of things, some of them relatively minor. The finding of a brain tumor — and specifically a glioma, an especially lethal type — was about the worst possible news.

Kennedy's doctors said he will remain in the hospital for the next couple of days as they consider chemotherapy and radiation. They did not mention surgery, a possible indication the tumor is inoperable.

Outside experts gave him no more than three years — and perhaps far less.

"As a general rule, at 76, without the ability to do a surgical resection, as kind of a ballpark figure you're probably looking at a survival of less than a year," said Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

In a statement, Dr. Lee Schwamm, vice chairman of neurology at Massachusetts General, and Dr. Larry Ronan, Kennedy's primary physician, said the senator "has had no further seizures, remains in good overall condition, and is up and walking around the hospital."

"He remains in good spirits and full of energy," the physicians said.

An Associated Press photographer who was given access to the senator on Tuesday captured Kennedy, dressed in a gray sweater and dark slacks, joking and laughing with family members as he sat at a table in a family room at the hospital.

Kennedy's wife since 1992, Vicki, and his five children and stepchildren have been at his bedside.

"Obviously it's tough news for any son to hear," said Robin Costello, a spokeswoman for one of Kennedy's sons, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I. "He's comforted by the fact that his dad is such a fighter, and if anyone can get through something as challenging as this, it would be his father."

Kennedy, the Senate's second-longest serving member, was re-elected in 2006 and is not up for election again until 2012. Were he to resign or die in office, state law requires a special election for the seat 145 to 160 days afterward.

Among the potential Democratic candidates: Martha Coakley, the state's attorney general; Rep. Edward J. Markey; former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, Kennedy's nephew; and Kennedy's wife. The Republican contenders could include former Gov. Mitt Romney or former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey.

Kennedy has left his stamp on a raft of health care, pension and immigration legislation during four decades in the Senate.

Senators of both parties heard about Kennedy's condition during their weekly, closed-door policy lunches, and some looked drawn or misty-eyed.

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the longest-serving member of the Senate, wept as he prayed for "my dear, dear friend, dear friend, Ted Kennedy" during a speech on the Senate floor.

"Keep Ted here for us and for America," said the 90-year-old Byrd, who is in a wheelchair. He added: "Ted, Ted, Ted. My dear friend. I love you and miss you."

"I'm really sad. He's the one politician who brings tears to my eyes when he speaks," said former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., who happened to be in the Capitol.

In a statement, President Bush saluted Kennedy as "a man of tremendous courage, remarkable strength and powerful spirit." He added: "We join our fellow Americans in praying for his full recovery."

Malignant gliomas are diagnosed in about 9,000 Americans a year. In general, half of all patients die within a year.

"It's treatable but not curable. You can put it into remission for a while but it's not a curable tumor," said Dr. Suriya Jeyapalan, a neuroncologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

The Kennedy family has been struck by tragedy over and over. Kennedy's eldest brother, Joseph, died in a World War II plane crash; President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963; and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. The tragedies thrust "Uncle Teddy" into the role of surrogate parent to his brothers' children. He walked Caroline Kennedy down the aisle.

A high point in his life came in 1980, when Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination. He eventually bowed out with a stirring speech in which he declared, "The cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." His eulogy for his brother Robert was equally stirring.

The low point was 1969, when Kennedy drove a car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island on Martha's Vineyard. The accident killed aide Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy at the time was married to his first wife, Joan, whom he later divorced. His failure to promptly report the accident, and questions about his relationship with the young woman, may well have cost him the presidency.

Kennedy has been active for his age, maintaining an aggressive schedule on Capitol Hill and across Massachusetts. He has made several campaign appearances for Sen. Barack Obama.

"He fights for what he thinks is right. And we want to make sure that he's fighting this illness," Obama said Tuesday. "And it's our job now to support him in the way that he has supported us for so many years."

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said: "Ted Kennedy's courage and resolve are unmatched, and they have made him one of the greatest legislators in Senate history. Our thoughts are with him and Vicki and we are praying for a quick and full recovery."

Last summer, Kennedy announced a deal with a publisher to write a memoir, scheduled to come out in 2010.

___

Associated Press Writer Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report from Washington

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This is not good news at all. Did anyone see the NBC Nightly News tonight? (6:30 EST)

Andrea Mitchell mentioned that two of his children were cancer survivors. A son had bone cancer years ago and a daughter (Keri?) is a lung cancer survivor!

Muriel

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This was such very sad news. So many in the media had called the news "grim."

It made me wonder what, if any, treatments might be available for Senator Kennedy, and all of the thousands diagnosed each year with glioblastomas, and brain cancer in general from varied sources.

My husband's WBR treatment last June, 2007, has made me particularly conscious of brain tumors, symptoms, and more specifically seizures.

This article was in my email news this morning:

http://patient.cancerconsultants.com/Ca ... 0treatment

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This was in my email news this morning, May 23, 2008):

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articl ... e_kennedy/

ARTICLE:

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Growing arsenal may serve Kennedy

Until a few years ago, patients stricken with cancerous brain tumors had precious few treatment options. There was surgery and radiation and not much else.

But today, as Senator Edward M. Kennedy and his doctors plot his course of care for a malignant glioma, they confront a richer palette of possibilities - due in no small part to Kennedy's championing of the war on cancer since its dawn in 1971.

Friends are certain that, secluded in Hyannis Port, Kennedy and his family are working the phones and taking a crash course in cancer care, from standard treatments to novel approaches being tested around the country.

"It's really hard to think of anyone who's helped biomedical research in this country or the National Institutes of Health more than he has, and hopefully he'll get some benefit from how he's helped others," said Dr. Patrick Wen, clinical director of the Center for Neuro-oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Among the progress that the Kennedys will undoubtedly learn about is a powerful form of chemotherapy that comes in a pill and stands as the drug of choice. And study results being released next week at a major cancer research conference show that a drug now used to treat other types of tu mors can extend the period that a brain growth remains in check, although in only about half the patients who received it.

At the same time, researchers around the world are exploring a constellation of experimental treatments, everything from specially engineered cold viruses that explode brain tumors while leaving healthy cells intact to a substance found in scorpion venom that targets cancer cells for destruction. Scientists also said they believe they are edging closer to being able to tailor treatments to the genetic quirks of individual patients' tumors.

Currently, the cancer branch of the NIH is sponsoring 269 experimental trials for adults suffering from gliomas, an agency spokesman said.

None of these therapies come close to being a cure, however, and with brain cancers, advances are typically measured in months of additional life, not years.

"To cure this problem is harder than getting to the moon, apparently, because we got to the moon a long time ago," said Dr. Eric Holland, director of the Brain Tumor Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. "All along the way we've been encouraged by things that looked good that at the end of the day didn't change the survival of patients."

Still, there is no denying that advances have been made, both in improving existing treatments and exploring new strategies to combat brain tumors.

In years past, for example, radiation would be trained on a patient's entire brain. Now, radiation, a mainstay of treatment, has become both more precise and more powerful, allowing doctors to target the tumor with more killing rays while not inflicting collateral damage on healthy brain tissue.

"It really has changed dramatically in terms of what we can offer patients today versus what we could even five years ago," said Dr. Howard A. Fine, chief of the Neuro-oncology Branch at the National Cancer Institute.

Fine said he is treating patients who have survived three, five, or even 10 years after being diagnosed with a malignant glioma "who were told they were going to die in six months, see you later. And now they're going about having normal lives."

"But do I also have patients who die in three or four or five months? Absolutely, I do," Fine said. "My point is, it doesn't have to be that way."

For so long, brain cancer had been considered such a formidable foe that researchers shied away from it, preferring to concentrate their efforts on other cancers. Brain tumors are dauntingly complex growths, and the slightest errors in treatment can result in devastating complications. Moreover, a protective barrier between the brain and blood flowing through the rest of the body greatly complicates the delivery of drugs.

Economics comes into play, as well. Simply put, the market for brain cancer drugs pales compared with that for other malignancies, with only 9,000 people a year in the United States diagnosed with the kind of cancer that has beset Kennedy.

"Because the numbers are relatively small," Wen said, "the incentive to develop drugs for brain tumors is less than for breast cancer or prostate cancer."

After so many years of having few options for their patients, cancer doctors in 2005 added an important new weapon. A landmark study showed that the drug temozolomide increased survival by a few months in newly diagnosed brain cancer patients when used in tandem with radiation.

Next week, researchers will present data showing that some brain cancer patients with especially aggressive tumors lived longer when they took a drug already approved to treat colon, lung, and breast cancer in combination with another medication. The study found that in half of the patients taking Avastin and another drug, the tumors had stopped growing after six months.

Other treatments are in various stages of development, including vaccines that would rev up the immune systems of patients to attack tumors, which otherwise are so stealthy that they can hide from disease-fighting cells.

Three radically new methods for attacking brain tumors are close to entering clinical trials locally, said Xandra O. Breakefield, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital. The methods aim to use genetically modified cells or viruses to home in on invasive tumor cells and destroy them.

Local biotech companies, too, are adding possible new weapons to the arsenal against brain tumors, including one originally isolated from scorpion venom. TransMolecular Inc. of Cambridge found that a substance called chlorotoxin binds to tumor cells but not to normal cells. Used with radioactive iodine, it delivers lethal radiation only to tumor cells, said Michael Egan, the company's president. It is now being tested in patients with malignant gliomas that have grown back, he said.

Throughout his 45 years in the Senate, Kennedy has been a stalwart defender of biomedical research, arguing for increases in the NIH budget, as well as sponsoring legislation to improve mammograms, securing money for cancer care in Boston, and backing aid for childhood cancers.

"In the cancer research and medical research community, we certainly owe Senator Kennedy a lot of gratitude for his support," said Dr. W.K. Alfred Yung, chairman of neuro-oncology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "This is also a time that the brain tumor community really needs to galvanize for the senator and his family to give the best advice in terms of the best way to move forward in his treatment."

. . . . . . . . .

(boston.com, By Stephen Smith and Carey Goldberg, Globe Staff, May 22, 2008)

Disclaimer:

The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind.

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does not matter he has already won! He left the hospital came home changed and went sailing. Gotta love those New Englanders!!!!!! So I have cancer !! Oh Well got a race this weekend to get ready for!!!

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I know, Randy, the Senator has proven, once again, that attitude is paramount.

Determination and moving one foot before the other following a cancer diagnosis is a great quality. Although, there probably was an initial reaction of what we all call "being stunned."

When I saw him arrive home (via TV), get out of the car, greet the dogs, his body language told me that he's got fortitude.

I love reading about the positive. :D

Hope you didn't mind my adding the articles. Your thread on Senator Kennedy's illness grabbed my attention, and I was drawn to reading more about it.

Thank you, Randy, for posting it,

Barbara

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http://www.boston.com/news/local/articl ... nd_cancer/

ARTICLE:

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Kennedy, his children, and cancer

He helped them beat it, but now the fight is his

Kara Kennedy was sitting in a doctor's office at Johns Hopkins Hospital with her father, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, when she got the news. Not only did she have cancer of the lung, it was inoperable. The doctor told her she might have less than a year to live.

For Senator Kennedy, the prognosis was unacceptable. Kennedy thanked the doctor and headed out the door. Over the next several days, he feverishly immersed himself in the subject of his daughter's cancer, and ultimately found a Boston surgeon who operated on her. Five years later, she is cancer-free and runs 5 miles a day, her mother said.

"He really saved her life," said Joan B. Kennedy, the senator's former wife and the mother of Kara. "I am so grateful that he is my children's father because he has always gotten them the best medical care."

Long before he was diagnosed with a malignant tumor on his brain, Kennedy had an extraordinary and intimate relationship with cancer. Two of his three children have faced severe forms of the disease, while a third had a noncancerous tumor on his spine. His former wife was also treated for breast cancer in 2005.

But Kennedy, 76, has met his children's cancers head on, arming himself with an arsenal of information and opinion that helped them to vanquish the disease. He has prayed and embraced experimental treatments and sought third opinions, and sometimes more. Many close to the family believe that the same tactics that he employed with his two children, both of whom faced possible death and are now cancer-free, will instruct and fortify him in his own battle against the disease.

"This family has had cancer laid in front of it and each time they have beat it," said Dr. David J. Sugarbaker, chief of thoracic surgery at Brigham and Woman's Hospital, who operated on Kara Kennedy. "They have an insatiable appetite for information and answers. They are looking for victory. That makes all the difference."

John V. Tunney, a former US senator and a close friend of Kennedy's, said that years of dealing with cancer doctors, both for his children and in his Senate work will also help him. "He knows that cancer can be beaten, because he's seen it in his own family time and again. We all hope that will help him in the days ahead."

For Kennedy's three children, cancer has shadowed their lives since Edward Kennedy Jr. lost a leg to bone cancer in 1973 when he was 12 years old. Patrick Kennedy, a Rhode Island congressman, was hospitalized for over a month in 1988, when he was 20, after his tumor was removed. Kara, 48, the oldest of the three children, has a "very good prognosis," according to Joan Kennedy, but she gets frequent check-ups to see that there is no recurrence.

Dr. David S. Rosenthal, former president of the American Cancer Society and the medical director of the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrated Therapies at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said that while he is not familiar with the details of the Kennedys' medical history, he considers it "unlikely that the cancers are related." Given the young age at which some of the Kennedys' cancers occurred, and the fact that they were found in different organs, it is unlikely, but not impossible, that there is a common genetic thread linking them.

Kennedy was closely involved with virtually every aspect of his daughter's treatment, which included chemotherapy in Boston and Washington, D.C., according to family confidants. Kennedy and his wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, accompanied her to chemotherapy treatments in Washington in the morning. When Kennedy had to head off to the Senate, his wife would typically stay behind. During those days, the senator often stole away to attend Mass.

"The whole time she was in jeopardy, he went and prayed for her every day," said a close family friend who talked on the condition of anonymity.

And every day, he urged her to have faith that she would be all right.

"Kara was always calling me and telling me the great things he was doing for her," said Joan Kennedy, who remains close to her daughter and was with her at the hospital during the surgery. "He was always encouraging her."

Teddy Jr.'s cancer began with a small lump below his knee. The then-seventh-grader presumed it was a bruise from football, but doctors soon discovered that the boy had bone cancer of a sort that, at the time, few survived.

Kennedy Sr. plunged into action. He summoned a group of cancer specialists to his Virginia home where debate over how best to treat the boy went late into the night, according to family and friends. At the time, chemotherapy was still in rudimentary stages and the Kennedys anguished over whether to subject their son to an experimental medication. In the end, Teddy Jr.'s leg was amputated above the knee and he was placed on a two-year regimen of methotrexate, a drug that kills cancer cells. Each infusion was followed by a series of vitamin shots.

Every three weeks, the boy was taken to Boston from Virginia by one of his parents for treatments. The senator would often take his son to Bruins or Celtics games while the teams were in town. He learned how to give his son his shots so that they could leave the hospital earlier, according to Adam Clymer, author of the biography, "Edward M. Kennedy." And some believe Kennedy decided not to run for president in 1976 so that he could see his son through the disease.

"He organized his life to handle this," said Tunney, who is Teddy Jr.'s godfather. "It was the most important thing in his life, to help Teddy be saved. The medication that he got was very new and everyone was deeply, deeply concerned. But Kennedy was the field commander on this. He made up his mind and he never wavered. And he was right."

Ted Jr., now 46 and a healthcare attorney and advocate for the disabled, has been cancer-free ever since. He declined to be interviewed. Clymer said the senator and his son often visit Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and talk to veterans about how to live despite missing limbs.

In Patrick's case, Kennedy took a similarly aggressive approach, according to family and friends. The young Kennedy, then a sophomore at Providence College, was admitted to the hospital after complaining of headaches and back pain. Several days later he underwent surgery to have a benign tumor pressing against his spine removed.

"In the case of each of his children, Kennedy has been completely stoic about it," said Gerard Doherty, former chairman of the state Democratic Party and a longtime friend of Kennedy. "He has a sense that you get good news and bad news in life, and when you get bad news you just go through the valley of tears and come through the other side."

The third diagnosis came in 2002. Kara Kennedy, then 42, was at a routine doctor's visit shortly before Christmas, when it was discovered that she had lung cancer. The family was shocked.

"It was just horrendous," said the family friend. "It was so devastating a diagnosis. In the case of both children, Ted and Kara, they were not given a lot of hope. But Senator Kennedy simply would not accept that they would not find a way to save them and cure them. He was going to beat this."

After considering a number of doctors, Kennedy and his daughter settled on Sugarbaker. In early January 2003, Kara had a portion of her right lung removed.

Two years later, in 2005, Joan Kennedy learned, through a routine mammogram, that she, too, had cancer. Kennedy, then 68, had a lumpectomy and said that her lymph nodes were not involved. She said that Kennedy, from whom she was divorced in 1982, did not help research her treatment options, but that he called her a couple of times to check up on her.

"I am doing great," said Kennedy. "I am really lucky."

Now, the subject of Kennedy's cancer research is himself. As he has in the past, Kennedy, according to those around him, is learning all he can about his tumor and how it might best be treated. He is believed to be researching novel protocols currently in clinical trials. He is expected to reach far and wide in the medical community in seeking opinions. And, as ever, he is reasurring those around him.

"Those of us who love him are having a very difficult time addressing this new reality," said Tunney. "If anybody is handling it well, it is him. He is very positive in his conversations about the future and how he will address the cancer. When you talk to him you just feel better."

Patricia Wen of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

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(The Boston Globe, By Sally Jacobs, Globe Staff, and Patricia Wen, Globe Staff, May 25, 2008)

Disclaimer:

The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind.

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Hi Randy,

Found this in my email, and thought it may be informative in the continuing input about Senator Kennedy for the many who wish to follow your original article:

http://www.boston.com/news/health/artic ... n_kennedy/

ARTICLE:

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Oncologist on Kennedy

May 26, 2008

Dr. Andrew Norden, a neuro-oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and neurologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, answered questions from boston.com readers last week in the wake of the news that Senator Edward M. Kennedy has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Norden is not treating Kennedy. Here are excerpts from his online chat, available at boston.com/news/health:

Q: The news is viewed in the media as uniformly grim. Is a glioma by definition fatal?

A: Unfortunately, the majority of gliomas are ultimately fatal. A small number of patients have very long survival.

Q: Do you think at the time of Kennedy's surgery last fall for removal of plaque in the carotid artery that a brain MRI was conducted?

A: Probably yes. And in all likelihood, this tumor was not present at that time.

Q: I am wondering why there cannot be an agreed-upon screening test for brain tumors, much like a colonoscopy.

A: Unfortunately, malignant brain tumors like the senator's grow quickly, often in a period of a few months. Plus, if we did frequent scans as you suggest, we would detect a lot of abnormalities that might not be important. Patients might end up with unnecessary brain biopsies.

Q: Any idea why he would be released [from the hospital] so quickly? Why are they not attacking this ASAP?

A: Generally, we wait at least 10-14 days after surgery for adequate healing before starting radiation and chemotherapy. If you start too early there is a risk that the surgical wound will reopen.

Q: What is the next step in his diagnosis? Will they test to determine exactly what stage the tumor is in?

A: Yes, the pathologist is now working to determine the exact subtype. Some molecular studies may also be used to better predict prognosis.

Q: Could you discuss some of the cutting edge therapies for gliomas? And because this is such a deadly cancer, please include any alternative/complementary therapies that might help one's own body beat back the disease.

A: We are increasingly using "targeted molecular therapies" for gliomas. These are drugs that target specific molecular changes in the tumors. Also quite promising are treatments that target blood vessels, called anti-angiogenic therapies. At the moment, 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.

Q: Is it reasonable to expect someone undergoing treatment for an advanced, aggressive glioma to continue a normal work schedule?

A: Some of my patients are able to maintain very busy schedules during treatment. Most of my patients, though, experience fatigue that prompts them to cut back. I advise my patients to plan for a significant reduction in work hours.

Q: What do you tell patients who are receiving a diagnosis as devastating as the senator's?

A: It's a difficult conversation, of course. I focus on the fact that treatments are constantly improving and that I will help the patient through the difficult road ahead.

Q: How do you give patients hope?

A: I focus on the emerging research and new drugs. And if all of our treatments fail, I focus on helpingP them to achieve a good death.

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(Boston Globe, Health Columns, May 26, 2008)

Disclaimer:

The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind.

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http://www.pal-item.com/apps/pbcs.dll/a ... /805280330

ARTICLE:

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The Kennedy family has arguably suffered far more tragedy than most families in America.

But in one sphere of tragedy, the Kennedys may be more like many, if not most, families that have been touched by cancer.

Sen. Edward Kennedy recently was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Two of his children, Kara and Edward Kennedy Jr., are cancer survivors. Edward Jr. lost a leg to bone cancer in 1973 at age 12, and Kara was diagnosed with lung cancer five years ago.

Both at one time had been given a 15 percent chance of survival yet today are cancer free, thanks in no small part to the fact that the 76-year-old Kennedy threw himself into their fight both as a father and as a legislator with a career of championing major health-care reform.

As chairman of the Senate's health subcommittee, Ted Kennedy in 1971 led the fight for passage of the National Cancer Act. Already, by 1971, cancer was recognized as the nation's second-leading cause of death.

With his own diagnosis and from where he now sits as the powerful chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, there is a growing optimism, even amid the sadness of Kennedy's bleak diagnosis, that major new victories might lie ahead in the fight against cancer.

"With his legacy in health care, this could be an incredible crowning achievement for him," said Hala Moddelmog, a breast cancer survivor and president and CEO of the cancer-fighting foundation Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Certainly Kennedy has been the moving force behind some of the landmark health care legislation of the past few decades, including universal health care coverage; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; the State Children's Health Insurance Program; and the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill protecting workers from losing health insurance when they switch jobs, or from being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

He has also been a strong advocate of biomedical research, AIDS research and treatment, a national bone marrow donor registry and anti-tobacco bills.

At the point of Kennedy's diagnosis several days back, there was an awe almost universally expressed about his being a fighter. The sentiment then was that any calculation of his survival odds should show due respect for his Irish ire.

But the real mark of the man is that the fight is not about him, or at least not about him alone.

His fight will be on behalf of and joined by others who are now battling or have already successfully battled cancer as well as by those who survive loved ones who lost the battle. Cancer kills an estimated more than half million Americans every year, so the battle is daunting.

But it is just that kind of mobilization and awareness, research and early diagnosis that Kennedy championed in the past that has shaped the biggest gains to date in the fight against cancer.

That fight has always had an important ally in Ted Kennedy. With his own recent diagnosis, he becomes an even more critical player in the fight.

. . . . . . . . .

(Pal-Item.com, Palladium Item, Richmond Indiana, May 28, 2008)

Disclaimer:

The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind.

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http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/109243.php

Excerpt from article:

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Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who recently was diagnosed with brain cancer, previously had begun work on legislation that would revise the 1971 National Cancer Act, and supporters hope that the "fact that Kennedy has fallen victim to this disease will generate public support and lend new urgency to the need to update the bill," the AP/Chicago Tribune reports. An aide to Kennedy on Friday said that the senator, who has worked with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) on the legislation, plans to introduce the bill in the next few weeks. The legislation seeks to improve coordination of cancer research, prevention and treatment and increase funds for research at the National Cancer Institute and other federal agencies.

Earlier this month, Kennedy, who led efforts to pass the National Cancer Act, held a press conference with Hutchison and cyclist and testicular cancer survivor Lance Armstrong to call on Congress to coordinate all of the resources available for the fight against cancer.

Daniel Smith, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said of Kennedy, "His work is pretty much unparalleled in the area of cancer in many ways, and we're excited about the possibility of this bill moving forward because he wants to address cancer in a comprehensive way," adding, "The fact that he now is fighting this disease is a jolt. It's a wake-up call to everyone."

Hala Moddelmog, a breast cancer survivor and president and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, said, "With his legacy in health care, this could be an incredible crowning achievement for him," adding, "I really think people will rally behind it, I really do. I think they already were starting to -- and this will just bring it home to people."

Advocate for Health Care Issues

According to the AP/Tribune, Kennedy "has been a prominent and passionate advocate" for a number of health care issues during his tenure in the Senate. Kennedy has led efforts to pass the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as legislation to establish SCHIP, ensure that workers do not lose access to health insurance when they change jobs due to pre-existing medical conditions.

In addition, he supported efforts to expand health insurance to all U.S. residents, promote biomedical research, promote AIDS research and treatment; establish a national bone marrow donor registry; and allow FDA to regulate tobacco products (Miga, AP/Chicago Tribune, 5/27).

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(Medical News Today, Cancer/Oncology, May 30, 2008)

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Its official He is now a Jesse Helms, Redneck, Good' ole boy. We put Duke Blood in all our patients here!!

Go Duke!!!!

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http://www.oncologystat.com/home/news/A ... se_II.html

COMMENTARY: This was interesting in the research that is being done in the arena of gliomas.

ARTICLE:

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Avant’s Brain Cancer Vaccine Passes Phase II

The Pink Sheet Daily. 2008 Jun 2, E Hayes

Glioblastoma multiforme patients could live a year longer by taking the new experimental CDX-110 vaccine from Avant Immunotherapeutics and Pfizer, according to two small Phase II studies presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago.

The vaccine targets the tumor-specific molecule EGFR variant III, which is linked with poor prognosis.

Used with the standard chemotherapy treatment oral temozolomide, the vaccine was shown to extend length of life and was also mostly well-tolerated in the Phase II ACTIVATE trial of 21 brain cancer patients and the ongoing ACT II study of 23 patients. John Sampson, associate professor of neurosurgery at Duke University, presented the data at the meeting on June 2.

"Most would think that chemotherapy would destroy the effect of the vaccine," Avant's Chief Medical Officer Tom Davis told "The Pink Sheet" DAILY. "What interested a lot of people is that not only does chemo not destroy it, but it looks like it made it work better. We will be moving forward with chemo plus the vaccine."

Exclusive global rights to the vaccine were picked up by Pfizer of New York, from Avant of Needham, Mass. in April ("The Pink Sheet" DAILY, June 2, 2008)

GBM is the most common kind of brain tumor and is very aggressive. Average survival is 13 months to 15 months, with about half of patients dying within that timeframe and a few living two to three years. Those with tumors that express EGFRvIII are extremely unlikely to survive past two years. CDX-110 teaches the immune system to attack EGFRvIII on the tumor.

In the ACTIVATE trial, researchers looked at 21 patients with newly-diagnosed EGFRvIII-expressing GBM who had surgical resection and radiation therapy with oral temozolomide, the standard chemotherapy treatment, and did not have tumor progression. Sixteen patients had three doses of the vaccine at two-week intervals with granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor, while the other five initially had placebo and were later given the vaccine.

Patients who had the vaccine had a median survival of 26 months versus 15.2 months for a matched historical cohort, while median-time-to-progression was 14.2 months compared to 7.13 months. No significant adverse events were reported.

In the similarly designed ACT trial of 23 patients, overall survival with the vaccine was estimated at 33.1 months versus 14.3 months for the matched historical cohort, while time-to-progression was 16.6 months, compared to 6.4 months.

"CDX-110 has the dramatic effect keeping people alive for much longer than you would expect, based on traditional information," Davis said.

Some patients experienced redness and itchiness at the injection site but the side effects did not cause them to discontinue treatment. There were also some mild allergic reactions.

At the ASCO meeting there was "tremendous enthusiasm around the data" and for a Phase IIb/III study already under way, Davis said.

"The vaccine made a large difference in Phase II studies in a disease where nothing much else can be done to improve outcome," Davis said. "Oncologists look at the data skeptically, and want a large study to confirm it. The next trial is a very important step."

The Phase IIb/III trial, designed to include 90 and then 375 patients, began accruing nine months ago, with enrollment due to complete by year's end and data set for release in 2009.

Avant's recently-forged partnership with Pfizer could help speed the trial up and could result in changes to the trial design, Davis said.

The vaccine has promise in a "broad assortment of tumors" and Pfizer is placing a high priority on performing studies in other settings, Davis said.

. . . . . . . . .

(Oncology Stat, June 2, 2008)

Disclaimer:

The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind.

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Sen. Ted Kennedy weathered surgery to remove a good hunk of a malignant glioma in the left side of his brain on June 2 at Duke University Medical Center. His doctors tell us that after he heals a bit, he will embark on treatment combining radiation and chemotherapy. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are common prescriptions for the million and a half people who find they have cancer each year. But in the small world of brain cancer—fewer than 20,000 people face this diagnosis yearly—using chemotherapy as a frontline treatment along with surgery and radiation is a relatively recent development.

The first new chemo agent for brain tumors in 20 years, Temodar (temozolamide), appeared on the scenes in late 1999. Developed by Schering-Plough, it gained expedited approval from the Food and Drug Administration because it was shown to more than double expected survival in patients with far-advanced malignant gliomas who had exhausted all other forms of treatment. With further proof of benefit, Temodar earned its way up to frontline therapy about three years ago and is now part of routine care.

Recognizing the power of chemotherapy in fighting gliomas has been long in coming. The drugs often have trouble getting into the brain because of the blood-brain barrier, a protective shield that keeps out many potentially toxic molecules. Chemo was a last resort, either when tumors came back or were found resistant to surgery and radiation. Then, a concoction of three drugs with the acronym PCV was the "rescue therapy." Occasionally, PCV worked.

Now we know that Temodar, started early and used along with and after radiation, can delay tumor recurrence and prolong life. The drug seems to make gliomas more sensitive to destruction by radiation. But it also can make tumors shrink without radiation, particularly tumors with a unique gene profile in which segments of two chromosomes are deleted. This discovery spurred research into the glioma genome and has led to a somewhat humbling but enlightening finding: Gliomas that look virtually identical under the microscope can have numerous genetic differences that signal very different tumor behavior and response to therapy.

Better understanding of abnormal gene behavior has ignited optimism in a field that is all too often grim. Abnormal genes can point to specific biochemical targets that make other chemo agents good bets. For example, some gliomas lack a different gene, which causes them to overproduce a protein called EGFR. New drugs that block this protein and are already approved for other cancers have produced dramatic shrinkage in some gliomas bearing that genetic error. And other genes are targets too, including ones that affect inflammation, blood vessel growth, and even vitamin A metabolism. Yes, some commonplace drugs like Celebrex (which blocks the COX-2 inflammatory pathway) and Accutane (an acne drug similar to vitamin A) might find themselves in a standard glioma treatment cocktail, depending on the nature of the tumor.

The particular type of malignant glioma and the chemotherapy the senator receives are matters between himself and his family, and his doctors. But people looking on and concerned for his welfare should see beyond the doom-and-gloom statistics. For one thing, they're based on statistical means, and no patient is an average. As important, they are based on yesterday's patients, not those of today and tomorrow.

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(US News & World Report, By Bernadette Healy, MD, June 3, 2008)

Disclaimer:

The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind.

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http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hda ... 4CTC_80MLA

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Cancer-stricken Kennedy gets ovation on Senate return

12 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Veteran Senator Edward Kennedy got a standing ovation from his colleagues as he returned to the US Senate Wednesday for the first time since being diagnosed with brain cancer.

The Democratic icon showed up for a vote on the Medicare state health program for seniors during a break from radiation and chemotherapy treatment, after undergoing surgery on a brain tumor last month.

He walked slowly from a car into the US Capitol building, then was greeted with a standing ovation from Republican and Democratic senators standing in the well of the Senate as he cast his vote.

"I return to the Senate today to keep a promise to our senior citizens and that's to protect Medicare," Kennedy, the patriach of the Kennedy political dynasty, said in a written statement.

"Win, lose or draw, I wanted to be here. I wasn't going to take the chance that my vote could make the difference."

Doctors at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina said last month that Kennedy's brain surgery had been successful and was a first step in a treatment plan.

Kennedy was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on May 17 after suffering a seizure at his family's compound in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod.

Following results from a biopsy, doctors diagnosed Kennedy with a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe, an area of the brain which controls speech, among other functions.

Doctors have not publicly offered a prognosis for Kennedy. But the US National Cancer Institute has said the outlook for such a diagnosis is poor, with average life expectancy depending on the stage of the tumor, from a few months to up to five years.

About 13,000 Americans die annually from malignant tumors in the brain or spinal cord, comprising 2.2 percent of all cancer-linked deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Survival has improved over the past decade due in part to new drugs.

The tumor kills 50 percent of patients during the first year after diagnosis and few live beyond three years. Without treatment the tumor grows back between two to three months after being surgically removed.

The brain tumor diagnosis sent shockwaves through the US Congress, where Kennedy has been a dominant figure for nearly half a century and is a champion of causes such as health care, education, workers rights and immigration reform.

Kennedy, whose eighth six-year term in the Senate expires in 2012, once seemed destined for the White House.

But his career was rocked by the death of a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, in his car late one night in 1969 after he drove off a bridge near Chappaquiddick island.

He did run for president in 1980 against incumbent Jimmy Carter. Kennedy lost the Democratic nomination but politically damaged Carter, who lost the general election to Republican Ronald Reagan.

Kennedy's brother, late president John F. Kennedy Jr., was shot and killed in 1963, and brother Robert Kennedy was shot dead while campaigning for the presidency in 1968.

His eldest brother Joseph died in a plane crash during World War II.

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(AFP, Google News, July 9, 2008)

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The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind.

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