Michael Strahan’s Daughter Shares Brain Cancer Diagnosis

By Steve Blanchard - January 12, 2024

This week, Isabella Strahan, daughter of “Good Morning America” host Michael Strahan, shared she was diagnosed with medulloblastoma in October 2023. She and her father discussed the diagnosis and treatment in an interview with host Robin Roberts on the morning program.

The 19-year-old Strahan shared that she knew something was challenging her health when she experienced dizziness in early October.

“That’s when I definitely noticed headaches, nausea, couldn’t walk straight,” she told Roberts.

She underwent surgery in October and was then treated with proton radiation, which included 30 sessions over six weeks, she said.

According to Dr. Andre Beer Furlan, a neurosurgeon at Moffitt Cancer Center, medulloblastoma is not unheard of, but it is rare. It typically affects people younger than 19 and accounts for approximately 10% of all primary tumors of the central nervous system in that patient population.

Approximately 500 children are diagnosed with medulloblastoma each year in the United States.

“The peak incidence is between 5 and 9 years of age,” Beer Furlan said, adding that the symptoms Isabella Strahan experienced are common. However, symptoms are dependent on the tumor’s location.

Young adults and children who have medulloblastomas usually show symptoms connected to intracranial pressure, such as morning or nocturnal headaches, nausea, vomiting and altered mental status, he said.

portrait of blockquote author

"Tumors in the midline may cause truncal instability whereas tumors affecting the lateral cerebellar hemispheres are more likely to cause incoordination."

- Dr. Andre Beer Furlan, Neuro-Oncology Program

“Those symptoms usually evolve over a period of weeks or months,” he said. “Tumors in the midline may cause truncal instability whereas tumors affecting the lateral cerebellar hemispheres are more likely to cause incoordination.”

Medulloblastoma can cause these symptoms:

  • Headaches (typically worse in the morning)
  • Blurred and double vision
  • Rapid side-to-side eye movements 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Difficulty walking and performing fine motor skills
  • Seizures

If cerebrospinal fluid pathways become blocked and increase cranial pressure, emergency surgery is necessary.

Isabella Strahan shared that treatment left her fatigued but added that she’s feeling good overall.

“I’m feeling good. Not too bad. And I’m very excited for this whole process to wrap,” she told Roberts.

In February, Isabella Strahan will start chemotherapy at Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center in Durham, North Carolina.

“That’s my next step. I’m ready for it to start and be one day closer to being over,” she said.

Like most tumors, medulloblastoma occurs randomly. However, Beer Furlan said 5% to 6% of children with medulloblastoma have mutations in specific genes that predispose them to cancers.

“Although a large majority of medulloblastomas are sporadic, the likelihood of cancer predisposition mutation varies by molecular group,” he said.

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