MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Republican Senator John McCain is fighting one of the most dangerous forms of brain cancer.
He revealed the diagnosis less than a week after surgery to remove a blood clot.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic hospital in Phoenix, Arizona also removed a tumor called a glioblastoma – a brain cancer that can be very deadly.
Experts say this type of cancer is aggressive and tough to treat.
“A glioblastoma is the most common and unfortunately also the most malignant primary brain tumor,” said Dr. Andrew Sloan, Director of the Brain Tumor and Neuro oncology Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.
Increased pressure in the brain can cause symptoms including headache, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. The average patient survives about 15 months.
” I always encourage my patients…that averages are just that.. averages… and there are many people who do better than average…I have patients who live for 2…5…even 10 years,” said Sloan.
Glioblastoma is the same type of brain cancer that killed another legend of the Senate Ted Kennedy in 2009 and Joe Biden’s son Beau in 2015.
The American Brain Tumor Association says more than 12,000 cases are expected to be diagnosed this year.
Treatment for glioblastoma typically involves surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible and then chemotherapy and radiation. Many patients are also opting for experimental treatments.
“Novel types of therapy such as tumor vaccines or immunotherapy, viral therapy, there’s a new device that basically you can wear and creates alternating currents that are designed to confuse the tumor cells…all those are adjuncts to the standard of care,” said Sloan.
Senator McCain is said to be weighing his next treatment options with his family and doctors.
McCain has faced cancer scares before. He has had four melanomas or skin cancer lesions removed since 1993. The most recent was in 2002. McCain’s colleagues are confident he’ll be “just fine” this time too. After all, the 80-year-old former Navy pilot endured five and a half years as a prisoner of war and 34 years in the U.S. Congress not to mention two runs for president.
His daughter -Meghan McCain – wrote, “last night that the family has “endured the shock of the news, and now we live with the anxiety about what comes next…I cannot and do not wish to be in a world without him.”
On Thursday, McCain, in response to an outpouring of support, shared a message with his colleagues, friends and family.