Hartford CEO Has Chemotherapy After Brain Tumor Removed

Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. said Chief Executive Officer Liam McGee had a tumor removed from his brain and will return to work Jan. 14.

McGee, 58, will have low-dose chemotherapy and radiation treatment “in an abundance of caution,” he said yesterday in a statement sent by Hartford. Post-surgical tests showed McGee is free of cancer, said Shannon LaPierre, a spokeswoman for the company. The tumor was precancerous, she said.

“The good news is that the procedure went well and I am feeling great,” McGee said in a letter to employees yesterday. “I was surprised to learn of the tumor, since I had not had any symptoms.”

The CEO remained in charge during the period in which he had the surgery, and has been working from home, LaPierre said. He underwent the surgery “over the holidays,” according to the letter.

McGee, a former executive at Bank of America Corp., took over Hartford in 2009 and repaid a $3.4 billion bailout the next year. He’s been selling life units to increase the Hartford, Connecticut-based company’s focus on property-casualty insurance.

Hartford has climbed about 34 percent in the past year in New York trading, and fell 17 cents to $23.90 yesterday. The stock traded as low as $14.56 in 2011 as McGee grappled with liabilities on annuity contracts.

Early Treatment

Tumors can harm brain cells, both directly and by producing damaging inflammation, placing pressure on other areas of the brain, and by changing the pressure inside the skull, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Brain tumors can occur at any age. They are classified based on their location, what kind of tissue is infected and whether they are benign or cancerous. They may be symptom-less until they’re sizable. Symptoms may include headaches, changes in cognition and seizures, according to the NIH.

Benign tumors don’t contain cancer cells and grow slowly. Cancerous tumors grow quickly and invade healthy brain areas.

The earlier a brain tumor is treated, the better the patient’s prognosis. Radiation therapy may be used to treat the tumor, as well as chemotherapy. The radiation kills cancer cells and shrinks tumors, and chemotherapy slows or kills rapidly dividing cells. After surgery, chemotherapy drugs may help prevent tumor cells from returning.

McGee said he and his doctors expect “minimal side effects” from chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Thomas Renyi, a Hartford director, said in the statement that McGee kept the board informed before and after the surgery.

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