Bruce Willis has frontotemporal dementia – here’s what we know about the disease

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Diagnosis can be difficult because these symptoms also occur in other conditions where the frontal lobes are injured, such as strokes and tumours. Photo: Pexels


(Catherine Loveday/ The Conversation) — American actor Bruce Willis has frontotemporal dementia, his family has announced.

In 2022, the 67-year-old action movie star was diagnosed with aphasia – difficulty with language and speech. Aphasia can occur for a variety of reasons (most commonly stroke) but for Willis, it is now clear that these speech problems were the early signs of this particularly devastating form of dementia.

Frontotemporal dementia is an umbrella term for any disease that causes gradual loss of brain tissue in the frontal and temporal lobes – the front and sides of the brain. Although relatively rare, it is one of the most common causes of dementia in people under the age of 65, accounting for around 40% of early-onset cases.

The condition – which goes by other names, such as Pick’s disease, frontal dementia, semantic dementia and primary progressive aphasia – tends to develop slowly, over several years. (…)

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