More than 12 thousand people a year are diagnosed with the type of tumor Senator McCain is facing

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — In a tweet, Senator John McCain is promising to return to Washington soon.

The 80 year old is battling an aggressive form of brain cancer — glioblastoma.

“Glioblastoma is what we refer to as grade four which is the highest grade on our grading scheme of brain tumors and so by definition it’s a more aggressive faster growing brain cancer,” says
Dr. Jennifer Moliterno, a brain tumor surgeon at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven.

Pointing to an MRI of a brain, “This is the area that I can remove with surgery,” Dr. Moliterno goes onto say that tumors like this one have a way of recurring.

“I usually caution against saying I got it all because usually with glioblastoma and brain tumors such as that, they have an infiltated component, meaning there is already microscopic spread tumor.”

There is no cure.

“This area here, this is the area that has to be targeted by drugs and radiation.”

The standard of care is radiation and chemotherapy with personalized — targeted treatment.

“Here at Yale for instance we sequence, meaning we look at the genetic makeup of all the tumors.”

Dr. Moliterno advises when subtle signs appear, just as Senator McCain reportedly experienced, see a doctor.

“Headaches or blurred vision or confusion, or light headedness. Or they can be more specific. If a tumor is involved with the speech area — there could be issues with speech. If it’s involved with an area that controls motor function, it can be weakness.”

There are a number of clinical trials at Smilow for brain cancer — using novel approaches with drugs and in some cases radiation.

More than 12 thousand people a year are diagnosed with Glioblastoma.

According to the American Cancer Society, the five year survival rate for patients over 55 years old is around four percent.

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