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Like Ted Kennedy, John McCain faces tough fight after brain cancer diagnosis

A Phoenix doctor said U.S. Rep. John McCain (R-Ariz.), at right, will face a tough battle after being diagnosed with the same type of brain cancer as former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). (AP Photos)

PHOENIX — A Phoenix doctor said U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was in for a tough fight after being diagnosed with the same type of brain cancer as the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).

“This is the same type of cancer that Edward (Ted) Kennedy died of and it’s not a cancer that we really have good treatment for,” Phoenix Dr. Terry Simpson said.

“We have some radiation and chemotherapy that can slow a tumor that can’t be removed with surgery, but that’s not a very good prognosis, I’m afraid.”

In a statement, McCain said he and his family were taking time to review the senator’s options to treat glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer that, once diagnosed, has an average survival time of 15 months.

Simpson said McCain does have options — such as radiation, surgery or chemotherapy — but all of them are the first step on a difficult path.

“When it’s found, it’s usually found at an advanced stage, it has usually gone to other parts of the brain, so it’s very difficult to completely resect,” he said. “Even in times when it’s completely resected, there is often a residual tumor that is left over that has to be treated.”

But there good be some hope for McCain. Like Kennedy, the Arizona senator could undergo surgery that may prolong his life span, though only time will tell if it is for months or years.

Simpson said older people who are diagnosed with glioblastoma tend to live longer than younger people — such as Beau Biden, the late son of former Vice President Joe Biden — who are diagnosed with it.

Kennedy was diagnosed in May 2008 after having a seizure. He had surgery the following month.

Kennedy lived for 15 months after his diagnosis, though he became more sequestered from public life as his health worsened. He passed away in August 2009.

Beau Biden received his cancer diagnosis in August 2013 and also underwent surgery. He passed away in May 2015.

KTAR News’ Ashley Flood contributed to this report.

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