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Senator Domenici Has Rare Dementia, Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration

Senator Domenici Has Rare Dementia, Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 -- Senator Pete Domenici (R, N.M.), is expected to announce today that he has been diagnosed with frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and will not seek re-election when his sixth term expires in 2008.

Frontotemporal lobar degeneration is one of the disorders under the broader category of frontotemporal dementias. Unlike Alzheimer's disease, which most commonly occurs after age 65, frontotemporal dementias may affect adults as young as 35, and because younger patients tend to be in better physical health, their post-diagnosis survival may be up to 10 years. Domenici is 75.

In an interview, John C. Morris, M.D., a professor of neurology at Washington University in St. Louis, said "frontotemporal dementia is an umbrella term for a number of distinct illnesses that have the same ultimate pathway -- that is, they cause nerve cell death in the frontal and temporal lobes."

There are two classic presentations of frontotemporal dementias, noted David Knopman, M.D., a professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., one involving personality and behavioral changes, and the other involving speech disturbances.

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