Arizona Sen. John McCain has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, his office said in a statement Wednesday. The 80-year-old lawmaker has glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer, according to doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, where McCain had a blood clot removed from above his left eye last Friday. "Subsequent tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot," his office said in a statement. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, more than 12,000 people a year are diagnosed with glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive type of tumor. The American Cancer Society puts the five-year survival rate for patients over 55 at about 4%.
It's the same type of tumor that struck McCain's close Democratic colleague in legislative battles, the late Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. The tumor digs tentacle-like roots into normal brain tissue. Patients fare best when surgeons can cut out all the visible tumor, which happened with McCain's tumor, according to his office. That isn't a cure; cancerous cells that aren't visible still tend to lurk, the reason McCain's doctors are considering further treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation. McCain has had a lifetime of near-death experiences, reports the AP: surviving the July 1967 fire and explosion on the USS Forrestal that killed 134 sailors; flying into power lines in Spain; the October 1967 shoot-down of his Navy aircraft and fall into Truc Bach Lake in Hanoi; and 5.5 years in a North Vietnamese prison. (Read more John McCain stories.)