One of the most enduring members of the U.S. Senate, and the elder statesman of American liberal politics -- Edward "Ted" Kennedy -- has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
Doctors issued the diagnosis Tuesday, three days after the 76-year-old Massachusetts senator was rushed to a Boston hospital following a seizure. They say a preliminary biopsy identified the cause of his seizure as a malignant glioma on the left side of his brain. A decision on how to treat the tumor will be made after more tests are conducted.
Kennedy is the youngest and last surviving brother of the late President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963. Their other brother, Senator Robert Kennedy, was assassinated in 1968.
News of the diagnosis was met by shock along with words of support for the long-time lawmaker.
The White House says President George Bush is deeply saddened by the diagnosis and will keep the senator in his prayers. The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, described Kennedy as a fighter and expressed confidence he will fight through this situation.
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama described Kennedy as a friend. Obama, who is African-American, said he might not be in the Senate had it not been for the issues that Kennedy has fought for over the years. Obama recently received the endorsement of the Massachusetts senator.
The other Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Hillary Clinton, said Kennedy's courage and resolve are unmatched.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, called Kennedy "the single most effective member of the Senate."
Senator Robert Byrd, a Democrat, wept as he delivered a response to the news of Kennedy's illness on the Senate floor. Calling the senator's name, he said "My dear friend. I love you and I miss you."
Doctors say Kennedy has not suffered any new seizures and is in good overall condition.
Kennedy has had health problems in the past.
He has suffered from chronic back pain ever since a 1964 plane crash that crushed three of his vertebrae. And last October, he had surgery to clear up a blocked left carotid artery.