Arizona Senator John McCain has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. The news came after McCain had surgery last week to remove a blood clot above his left eye at Phoenix’s Mayo Clinic Hospital. The brain cancer was confirmed by lab results from the surgery. The tumor, know as a primary glioblastoma is aggressive and forms in the brains tissue and spinal cord.
Doctors at the May Clinic spoke exclusively to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent about the tumor. The procedure John McCain underwent on Friday was minimally invasive craniotomy. An incision was made in the eyebrow, and scans following the surgery showed that the tissue causing the original concern was completely removed during the three to four hour surgery.
According to his office, the senator is recovery well and is at home. Doctors indicated that before and after the surgery, McCain has shown no neurological problems. However, along with his family, they are considering the next step to tackle the brain cancer. This could include chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The senator’s daughter, Meghan McCain, tweeted on Wednesday that the entire family has been affected by the cancer news. She also said her father is leading the family in confidence right now.
The blood clot that led to the discovery of the brain cancer was found during a routine exam last week. Doctors said the senator is diligent about coming in for exams and due to a history of skin cancer, comes in for skin checks every four months. On Friday, he arrived before 8:00 a.m. for his appointment, looking good, but indicated he was tired. He attributed that to his Senate travel schedule. He also reported to having double vision from time to time and not feeling as sharp as normal. That prompted a CT scan. The results came in after Senator John McCain had left the hospital, and he was called back to have an MRI. Everything seemed normal, except for the blood clot. That same afternoon he was having the procedure to remove it done and by evening was in ICU recovering.
Following the procedure, he was his normal self, cracking jokes and ready to get back to work, so he was discharged on Saturday to spend the rest of his recovery at home. According to doctors, he had no headaches, seizures, and his balance was good.
The surgical procedure to remove the clot required the bone under the eyebrow to be removed and then put back when the procedure is done. The tumor that was discovered can be very aggressive. According to CNN’s Gupta, survival from this type of tumor, with treatment, is 14 months on average. Because of the surgery, John McCain will not be able to start treatment for three to four weeks, after the surgical incision has healed completely. A 2009 study states that 10 percent of patients with this type of brain tumor have lived five or more years. This is the same type of brain tumor that Senator Ted Kennedy suffered from.
By Cletus Dillwood
Photo by Gage Skidmore