Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kennedy Has Malignant Brain Tumor, Doctors Say

Sen. Edward Kennedy (right) talks with Sen. Patrick Leahy at a Senate Judiciary Committee session in April.
Chip Somodevilla
Getty Images
Sen. Edward Kennedy (right) talks with Sen. Patrick Leahy at a Senate Judiciary Committee session in April.
Washington Editor Ron Elving: Political Impact


Doctors in Boston on Tuesday announced that Sen. Ted Kennedy has a malignant brain tumor.

The tumor was discovered in tests after Kennedy suffered two seizures over the weekend. Kennedy has been resting at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital since then. The prognosis is uncertain.

The tumor is a malignant glioma located in Kennedy's left parietal lobe — about at the top of the head.

The usual treatment for such a tumor includes combinations of radiation and chemotherapy, but the precise treatment for Kennedy will be determined after further tests and discussion among his physicians, doctors said.

Malignant glioma is the most common type of adult brain cancer. About 10,000 to 15,000 Americans receive a diagnosis of malignant glioma each year.

After receiving the news at 1:20 ET, President Bush said through a spokesman that he was deeply saddened and praying for Kennedy.

The news also coincided with a weekly Democratic luncheon, which was under way on Capitol Hill behind closed doors. There, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) reportedly told the group that he had spoken to Sen. Kennedy by phone and that he found Kennedy to be optimistic.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), who is fighting a recurrence of Hodgkin's Disease, a cancer of the lymph system, also commented on the diagnosis.

"Sen. Kennedy is a real fighter. We all know that," Specter said. "I'm betting on Sen. Kennedy."

Kennedy is an almost iconic figure on Capitol Hill. News of his diagnosis was greeted with sadness on both sides of the aisle.

"All I can say is he's a great legislator, he's a great human being, a person who always has that sense of humor, and that will pull him through, between you and me," said Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. "And I'll be praying for him, too."

Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a fellow Democrat, is perhaps Kennedy's best friend in the Senate.

"He's very confident. He's a strong guy, has a great heart, and we're confident he'll be back here," Dodd told reporters as he fought back tears.

The Kennedy family has made no public statement. Doctors say the senator has had no further seizures, is in good spirits and is resting comfortably.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit