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Brain Cancer in the Left Parietal Lobe

Senator Ted Kennedy’s recent brain tumor diagnosis and surgery has received prominent coverage in the news media, so much so that if you perform a Google search for the phrase “malignant brain tumor,” the results are dominated by news reports about Senator Kennedy, not, as is usually the case, medical websites that discuss diagnosis and treatment.

On Monday morning Senator Kennedy underwent brain surgery at the Duke University Medical Center. Because the location of the tumor was in the left parietal lobe of the brain, neurosurgeons had to exercise particular caution, as this area “controls speech, comprehension, and other mental and visual skills.”

Neurological symptoms associated with a tumor in the left parietal lobe include:

  • Impaired speech
  • Inability to write
  • Lack of recognition
  • Seizures (Kennedy had a seizure which lead to his hospitalization and eventually his diagnosis)
  • Spatial disorders

Dr. Allan H. Friedman, co-director of the Brain Tumor Center at Duke reported that the surgery was successful and that Kennedy “should experience no permanent neurological effects from the surgery.”

 


Other neurological diagnoses that may be related to the left parietal lobe:

 

Gerstmann’s Syndrome
Gerstmann’s Syndrome is “characterized by four primary symptoms: a writing disability (agraphia or dysgraphia), a lack of understanding of the rules for calculation or arithmetic (acalculia or dyscalculia), an inability to distinguish right from left, and an inability to identify fingers (finger agnosia)” which happens in adults due to stroke or damage to the parietal lobe.

Dysgraphia
This disorder “causes a person’s writing to be distorted or incorrect and typically occurs in children when they are first introduced to writing” and in adults who suffer some sort of head trauma.

 



Further Reading
In a wide-ranging review of the evidence base for the current standard of care for primary brain tumors and other central nervous system malignancies, Amy A. Pruitt, MD, touched on a variety of topics in neuro-oncology, including an overview of the epidemiology and diagnosis of primary brain tumors.
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