Kennedy at work in the Senate last month.
By Matt Viser and Michael Levenson, Globe Staff
DURHAM, N.C. -- Senator Edward M. Kennedy's surgery today for a malignant brain tumor achieved its objectives, and he will experience no permanent neurological effects from the delicate procedure, his surgeon at Duke University Medical Center said this afternoon.
"I am pleased to report that Senator Kennedy's surgery was successful and accomplished our goals," Dr. Allan Friedman said in a statement.
Friedman said Kennedy had been awake during the operation and "should therefore experience no permanent neurological effects from the surgery."
Asked by his wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, how he felt after the surgery, he said, "I feel like a million bucks. I think I'll do that again tomorrow," Kennedy's office said.
The surgery lasted about 3 1/2 hours and is just the first step in Kennedy's treatment plan. After a "brief recuperation," he will begin radiation treatment and chemotherapy at Massachusetts General Hospital, Friedman said.
"I hope that everyone will join us in praying for Senator Kennedy to have an uneventful and robust recovery," he said.
In a statement released shortly before 6:30 a.m., Kennedy broke the news of his operation and said he expected to recuperate at Duke for about a week.
Kennedy sailed in Hyannis Port on Sunday morning, then flew to North Carolina with his wife that afternoon. He was admitted to the hospital after his arrival.
The surgery followed a meeting at Mass General on Friday, during which cancer specialists from around the country discussed his course of treatment. At that meeting, Kennedy's own doctors were joined by doctors from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, as well as Friedman, according to a source close to Kennedy. At the end of the meeting, there was near unanimous agreement that he would have surgery at Duke, the confidant said.
The surgery came as something of a surprise because, after the initial diagnosis was made nearly two weeks ago, Kennedy's doctors did not mention surgery as a treatment option. Rather, they limited their focus to radiation and chemotherapy, and later, Kennedy associates hinted that he would seek experimental drug treatments.
Dr. Allan Friedman
The surgery is considered the most aggressive approach he could take in addressing his malignant brain tumor.
Friedman, neurosurgeon in chief at Duke University Medical Center, is a renowned tumor and vascular neurosurgeon, according to the university website. He is responsible for more than 90 percent of all tumor resections and biopsies conducted at Duke.
"Malignant brain tumors have ruined the lives of many healthy, vibrant members of our society. We are translating research into successful new treatments — the odds are in our favor for major achievement and long-term answers," Friedman says in a statement posted with his profile.
Kennedy, in his statement, signaled that he would wait until all treatments were concluded before returning to Washington and the floor of the Senate. That return probably won't take place until September, after the Senate returns from its summer recess.
"After completing treatment, I look forward to returning to the United States Senate and to doing everything I can to help elect Barack Obama as our next president," he said in the statement.
Before leaving for North Carolina, Kennedy telephoned Senate majority leader Harry Reid, both to tell him of his plans and to highlight two significant pieces of legislation that Kennedy has in the works: higher education reauthorization and mental health parity, Kennedy aides said. The senator also called Senators Christopher Dodd and Barbara Mikulski to ask their help in shepherding the bills through their respective conference committees.
Kennedy was joined in North Carolina by his wife, his son Patrick, and his sister Jean.
US Representative William D. Delahunt, a colleague of Patrick's in Congress and a long-time family friend, was buoyed by Kennedy's decision to try surgery.
"Obviously, my prayers are with him,'' the Quincy Democrat said in a telephone interview this morning. "The fact that it is operable is a sign of real hope.''
Delahunt said he was confident that Kennedy and especially his wife completely researched the options before making the choice that they did.
"I think it is a positive sign in the sense that they feel the cancer can be removed and that the senator can go and continue to be the force that he is in terms of the political life of the country,'' he said.
"I know Vicki Kennedy. I know she has done her research in great depth. ... Clearly, it's a decision that I think was made after careful consideration and after consulting with the very best in the medical profession with a particular focus on tumors, malignant tumors," Delahunt said.
The media flocked this morning to the hospital, which is on the leafy Duke University campus. But they were kept at a distance.
About a dozen TV cameras were set up under tents in a parking lot about 100 yards from the hospital's main entrance. In another roped-off area, reporters and photographers hoped for a glimpse of the Kennedy family coming in or out of the hospital. No family members were sighted.
Kennedy's doctors revealed May 20 that he had been diagnosed with the tumor, saying tests had identified a cancerous mass on the top left portion of his brain as the cause of a seizure he had suffered three days before. His prognosis was seen as uncertain at best.
But a day after his diagnosis, Kennedy walked out of the hospital, days earlier than scheduled, greeting well-wishers outside his family compound on Cape Cod with a smile, a wave, and a thumbs-up -- and immediately went sailing on Nantucket Sound.
Kennedy, first elected to the Senate in 1962 to the seat vacated by his brother, President John F. Kennedy, has sponsored more than 2,500 bills. A liberal icon, he has made a career of advocating for the less fortunate.
The Globe reported this morning that Kennedy had turned to one of his most trusted former aides, Dr. Lawrence C. Horowitz, as he crafted his strategy to battle cancer and that Horowitz and the Kennedys were considering Duke University Medical Center.