Surgery goes well for Oates

Ex-manager at Hopkins fighting brain cancer

Baseball

November 21, 2001|By Jonathan Bor | Jonathan Bor,SUN STAFF

Former Orioles manager Johnny Oates was reported in good condition yesterday after surgery on a malignant brain tumor at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"He's doing well after surgery," said hospital spokesman Trent Stockton, explaining that the family had requested that no more information be released.

Oates, 55, was found to have a particularly aggressive type of brain cancer on Nov. 5 after experiencing slurred speech and weakness on his left side.

His condition, called glioblastoma multiforme, is considered the most deadly and difficult to treat form of brain cancer, said Dr. Andrew S. Kennedy, a radiation oncologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The tumor grows rapidly within the brain, causing the brain to push outward into the skull. This causes a range of neurologic symptoms, ranging from severe headache to seizures.

Kennedy, who is not involved in Oates' care, said that surgeons can remove only the visible portions of the tumor, which usually has fine tentacles that remain after surgery. The tumor almost always grows back, and victims rarely live more than a year or two longer.

"Unlike other cancers, where there are exciting things on the horizons, we're not very good at treating it," Kennedy said. "It's a frustrating cancer."

Patients undergoing surgery typically have radation as well. "Even when there is a good response, we know that within several months it comes back," Kennedy said. Some patients opt for chemotherapy, too, but that adds just a few additional months of survival.

A patient Oates' age would typically live a year to 18 months after treatment, Kennedy said, adding, "That's the law of averages."

Oates had stepped down as manager of the Texas Rangers on May 4 after the team had posted an 11-17 record. Oates was in his seventh year managing the Rangers. His Texas teams were 506-476.

Oates managed the Orioles for more than three seasons. He went 291-270 with three straight winning records before being fired at the end of the 1994 season.

The Orioles were the first of five major-league teams that Oates, a catcher, played for from 1970 to '72.

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