BOSTON, June 2 — Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was to have surgery for his malignant brain tumor on Monday morning at Duke University Medical Center, his office said.
Mr. Kennedy, 76, who was diagnosed two weeks ago with a malignant glioma in the upper left portion of his brain, was to undergo an operation that was to begin at around 9 a.m. and last roughly six hours. He was to be operated on by Dr. Allan Friedman, chief of the division of neurosurgery in the surgical department at Duke in Durham, N.C.
Mr. Kennedy’s office issued a statement at around 6:30 a.m. on Monday saying that he expects to remain in the hospital at Duke for about a week and then return to Massachusetts, where he will undergo chemotherapy and radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital, where his tumor was diagnosed after he suffered a seizure at his home on Cape Cod.
Mr. Kennedy said in the statement that he and his wife Vicki, “along with my outstanding team of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital, have consulted with experts from around the country and have decided that the best course of action for my brain tumor is targeted surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation.”
He said that, “after completing treatment, I look forward to returning to the United States Senate and to doing everything I can to help elect Barack Obama as our next president.”
It was not clear from the statement how long his course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment would take.
In a statement issued at the time of Mr. Kennedy’s diagnosis, doctors at Massachusetts General mentioned chemotherapy and radiation but did not mention surgery. Experts not involved in Mr. Kennedy’s case, including Alain Charest, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Tufts Medical Center, said at the time that if the tumor could be removed surgically, doctors would do so. But he said that gliomas are difficult to remove because cells from the tumor tend to travel to other parts of the brain.
“They’re very aggressive,” Professor Charest said. “They migrate quite extensively away from the bulk tumor. Single tumor cells take off and go a certain distance away from the main mass, and these are the ones that are hard to get at.”
Malignant glioma, the most common form of brain cancer, accounts for about 9,000 cases diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. The prognosis varies depending on the type and severity of the tumor, and the patient’s age, but in general, experts said that patients can be expected to live between one to four years.
Mr. Kennedy is known for taking an aggressive and deeply researched approach to medical treatment when advising family members and friends who have suffered from serious diseases. After his diagnosis, friends and associates suggested that he would take a similar approach to his own cancer.
“I’m quite confident that Ted is going to find every expert and every available new approach or other approach and he will consider it very carefully and thoroughly,” Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts said at the time. “This is a guy who has been asking questions for 40 years. He knows how to ask questions.”
In the days after his diagnosis, Mr. Kennedy has been projecting an image of optimism and energetic activity, sailing near his Hyannisport home and participating in a sailing race from Nantucket to Cape Cod.
The Boston Globe reported on Monday that before leaving for North Carolina, Kennedy telephoned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to tell him of his plans and to highlight two significant pieces of legislation that Kennedy has in the works: higher education reauthorization and mental health parity, Kennedy aides said. The senator also called Senators Christopher Dodd and Barbara Mikulski to ask their help in shepherding the bills through their respective conference committees, The Globe reported
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