By Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) – Sen. John McCain has been diagnosed with a brain tumor called a glioblastoma. It is considered to be an aggressive form of cancer.

McCain had surgery last week for what was called a blood clot above the left eye. The clot was behind the skull, so a craniotomy was performed, and at that time surgeons discovered the blood clot was caused by a tumor. The tumor was removed and biopsied.

gettyimages 83107777 Hnida: McCains Cancerous Brain Tumor A Tough One

Sen. John McCain during his unsuccessful campaign for president in October 2008 at Colorado State University in Pueblo. Colorado. (credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The senator did well after the Friday surgery and was home by Sunday.

The problem was found after a visit to his doctor last week when he complained of fatigue, difficulty concentrating and periods of double vision.

A CT scan was performed and the clot discovered.

Because of McCain’s history of malignant melanoma, doctors were not sure of the type of tumor (which bled and caused a clot) until the biopsy was performed. They were able to remove the entire tumor, although it’s not clear whether it had already begun to spread, or microscopic cells are elsewhere in the brain. In other words, they were able to remove what they were able to see, but are not sure what may be left behind. Typically, a small spread of the tumor is not easily visible on an MRI or CT scan.

The glioblastoma is not related to his previous history of melanoma or other health problems.

This type of tumor is a tough one. It is the same type of tumor that Sen. Ted Kennedy had. It tends to grow and spread very rapidly.

Although it’s believed that the senator will undergo radiation and chemotherapy, some of the treatment will be delayed about a month until the surgical incision has healed.

Although some people live for several years after diagnosis, the average life expectancy after being diagnosed with a glioblastoma is 14 months.

For more information on glioblastoma, visit…/glioblastoma.html

Dr. Dave Hnida is CBS4’s Medical Editor. He blogs about the latest studies and trends in the health world. Read his latest blog entries, check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @drdavehnida


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