Senator John McCain starts his cancer treatment today. Although there are about 80,000 cases of brain cancer diagnosed each year but John McCain’s treatment is putting a spotlight on the disease. Like many cancer patients John McCain was not aware of his cancer and was diagnosed on a routine physical exam. Other patients with Senator McCain’s type of brain cancer have symptoms like a headache or nausea that might be dismissed by a patient. More severe symptoms such as seizures or weakness can also occur and because it is such an aggressive disease that progresses rapidly.
To learn more about what brain cancer is, we sat down with Dr.Murali Murty, a radiation oncologist at Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers. Although he is not involved with senator McCain’s care, Dr. Murty treats patients with brain cancer and helps patients and their families better understand the disease. He says, “A majority of malignant brain tumors are glioblastomas. Treatment involves surgery, if possible, followed by radiation and chemotherapy given together. Generally, patients, with glioblastoma have a survival of 14 months although longer survival is possible. Patients with complete resection of tumor may have longer survival.” Glioblastoma is an aggressive disease that has a very poor prognosis. Though treatment may improve prognosis, the disease often recurs.
Many factors are considered when choosing the best treatment for brain cancer. Your treatment plan is individualized to you and your specific cancer. For more information about Dr. Murty click here or call Ironwood Cancer and Research Center at 480-821-2838.