McCain Brain Cancer Prognosis is Grim; Potential Survival is Limited at Best

The Mayo Clinic reported yesterday that during the “minimally invasive” craniotomy above McCain’s left eye, surgeons were able to remove a primary tumor, noting “the tissue of concern was completely resected.”

The problem with glioblastomas is that even if the primary tumor is removed, the infiltrating nature of the tumor can leave small cells of it burrowed into brain tissue. That’s why follow-up radiation and chemotherapy are the best options afterward.

The American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) describes glioblastoma tumors as typically malignant and difficult to treat because they contain many types of cells.”

The Mayo Clinic and McCain family are putting up an optimistic front, noting that the senator recovered well from last Friday’s procedure and that his “underlying health is excellent.”

According to ABTA, the prognosis is very grim. The median survival rate for the most common type of glioblastoma is 14.6 months. Only 30 percent of patients live for two years.

Supporting that viewpoint is the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Florida, one of the finest neurosurgical teaching departments in America and world-renowned for its groundbreaking research.

The UF department provides this information regarding glioblastomas:

The most common and most malignant type of astrocytoma is the grade IV astrocytoma, or Glioblastoma Multiforme. GBM’s represent 25% of primary tumors, and are the most commonly diagnosed tumors in those aged 55 to 75. Standard therapy involves a resection or biopsy, followed by a combination of radiation and chemotherapy (oral Temozolomide (Temodar)). Average survival for these patients is about 14-18 months.”

The survival range cited for those who undergo treatment is fairly standard across the board. Eugene S. Flamm, chairman of neurosurgery at Montefiore Hospital in New York, puts the median survival at around 16 months.

Michael Berens, deputy director of the Translational Genomics Research Institute in downtown Phoenix, notes McCain’s strong support of the organization and puts the typical survival rate at 16 at 18 months.

When I heard of the diagnosis, my heart sank,” Berens said. “Sen. McCain has been a stalwart for this institution. … He’s a long-term survivor of cancer and then this diagnosis pops up. God bless him. He’s a man of great courage and endurance. He has a rough journey ahead of him.”

Ironically former Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy, McCain’s good friend, died from the same illness in 2009.

Among the political well-wishers once the news came out was President Donald Trump, who issued the following statement:

Senator John McCain has always been a fighter,” President Donald Trump said in a written statement. “Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy, and their entire family. Get well soon.”

Last night, about a dozen lawmakers gathered to explore a health care compromise. They asked Senator James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who is a Baptist minister, to lead them in prayer for their colleague.

While McCain talks about someday returning to the Senate in Washington, the road ahead provides a daunting challenge to a man who survived the horrors of imprisonment and brutal punishment in a North Vietnamese prison during the Vietnam War.

Known for his feisty nature and iron will, John McCain most needs the prayers of Americans everywhere to carry his last fight forward. Again, he faces a foe that shows no mercy.

Source: NY Times, AZ Central, University of Florida



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