Experts have proffered reasons why many people who experience the kind of cancer that killed American senator and a Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, hardly survive it.
John McCain died on Saturday, August 25, at his home in Arizona, at the age of 81.
McCain was diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor, about one year ago.
Reports had it that, after undergoing a surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye, doctors discovered the presence of brain cancer in the then 80-year-old Arizona senator.
In an official statement released after he left hospital on Friday, McCain’s family confirmed: “In the year since, John has surpassed expectations for his survival. But the progress of the disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict. With his usual strength of will, he has now chosen to discontinue medical treatment.”
As reported in the online health magazine, Prevention, the American Cancer Society estimates that more than 23,000 cases of malignant brain or spinal cord tumors will be diagnosed this year.
And though the overall chance of developing one during a lifetime is less than one percent, 17,000 people will still die from it each year in the United States, the ACS warns.
Glioblastomas are the most common malignant brain tumors in adults, says the ACS.
Not only that, but they grow the fastest, making treatment especially tricky.
Washington University neuro-oncologist and researcher specializing in brain tumors at Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis, George Ansstas, says of the affliction, “Unfortunately we don’t know exactly why it is so aggressive, but we do know it is aggressive in the course of the disease itself. Sometimes the tumor could double in size within 3 to 4 weeks.”
Dr. Ansstas says that a variety of factors could cause them to become abnormal, such as exposure to radiation and chemicals.
Physicians say that, while they could not explain why most patients tehy see develop the cancer, they are certain that it’s not related to smoking or cell phone use.
They, however, express certainty that genetic conditions such as Lynch syndrome or an underlying family history of brain cancer also seem to increase the risk.
Symptoms include fatigue, foggy vision, headaches, seizures, nausea and vomiting, excessive tiredness, memory issues, difficulty speaking, cognitive and personality changes, among others.
The symptoms depend on where the tumor is located, explains Dr. Ansstas.