Monday, June 2, 2008

Kennedy's Operation Termed "Successful"

Updated Aug. 26, 2009. See note at end of the article.

According to the New York Times, Senator Edward Kennedy underwent a successful surgery today:

Senator Edward M. Kennedy successfully underwent surgery on Monday in Durham, N.C., for a malignant brain tumor, his surgeon said.

“I am pleased to report that Senator Kennedy’s surgery was successful and accomplished our goals,” the physician, Dr. Allan H. Friedman, co-director of the Brain Tumor Center at the Duke University Medical Center, said in a statement about 2 p.m.

Kennedy’s Surgery for Tumor Called Success

As I've mentioned previously, Sen. Kennedy was diagnosed with glioma, a rather nasty form of brain cancer. This apparently was a long and difficult operation:

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy underwent a 3 1/2 -hour targeted brain surgery at Duke University Medical Center today to remove a malignant tumor.
The procedure was intricate, complicated by the fact that the tumor cells can be very difficult to distinguish from surrounding brain tissue and because the tumor is located very close to centers of the brain that control motor function, speech and memory.

Doctors call Sen. Kennedy's brain surgery successful

The NYT elaborates on the goal of the surgery:

The surgeon’s challenge in any such procedure is to remove as much of the tumor as possible while avoiding sensitive areas.

“We call it debulking, and we like to get a very high percentage of the tumor, say 90 percent, which can help a lot” with overall treatment, said Dr. Robert Goodman, an associate professor of neurosurgery at Columbia.

Dr. Friedman at Duke did not report what percentage of the tumor he had removed.

Kennedy’s Surgery for Tumor Called Success

Bear in mind that I have absolutely no qualifications in medicine, but it looks like what they're trying to do is reduce the amount of cancer that has to be killed off by chemotherapy or radiation. That reduces the doses that have to be given to the patient, thus making the treatments less damaging and debilitating. Anyway, that's what I'm getting from the articles.

Meanwhile, Kennedy appears to be in good spirits, if the various reports can be believed. He's also clearly not planning on taking it easy:

Kennedy spoke on Sunday with Connecticut Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd, one of his closest friends. But in his typical fighter's style, there was little talk about the cancer or his impending surgery. Instead, it was all about a pair of legislative measures — on mental health care and education — that Kennedy has been working on for months.

"He wants to get them done and he expects to be here when they are done," Dodd said. "He plans on coming back as soon as the doctors will let him."

Chemo and radiation next for Kennedy after surgery

As I've said, if spirit and determination count for anything, Ted Kennedy's going to be around a lot longer.

UPDATE (Aug. 26, 2009): As readers of this article are undoubtedly aware, Sen. Kennedy died last night. See this memorial article and this article on succession for more information.

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